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Grammatik - Either oder neither?

Schlagwörter: either, neither, englisch, Grammatik, grammar, OWAD

Sometimes you can use either and sometimes
neither. Either can be tricky. But
neither is very difficult. Or is it Neither
are very difficult?


The words either and neither cause frequent
problems for native and non-native
speakers alike. If you’ve ever been confused
about which to use and when, the following
rules will help you get it right.

The fundamentals
Before getting into the rules that govern
the usage of these words, it’s necessary
to understand and memorise their fundamental
meanings:

either = choice between two objects
one object
neither = not either =
rejection of two objects
no objects


Examples:

Either James or Susan will be there.
( One of them will be there ).

Neither James nor Susan will be there.
( No one will be there ).

From these examples, you can quickly
recognise two fundamental rules:

either goes with or

neither goes with nor

Using either


Either is used to group two objects and
imply a choice between them:

Either we need to get additional training
or we’ll lose our competitive edge.

I couldn’t find the pen either on or under
my desk.

Janice wasn’t to be seen either before or
after the Christmas party.

Either my manager or yours is the correct
person to ask.

Would you like coffee or tea? Either would
be OK, thank you.


Native speakers will sometimes leave
either out:

We need to get additional training or we’ll
lose our competitive edge.
I couldn’t find the pen on or under my desk.
Janice wasn’t to be seen before or after
the Christmas party.
My manager or yours is the correct
person to ask.

Using neither

Neither is the negation of
either. It is used to group two
objects and imply none of them:

Neither our secretary nor our Managing
Director has the key to the data centre.

I could neither voice my approval nor my
disapproval.

Would you like milk or sugar? Neither,
thank you.

Verb tense

Care must be used when selecting the
tense of the verb in sentences with either
and neither. Either and neither are treated
as singular subjects when used without
objects:


Either of the colours is acceptable. ( Note
here that the verb must agree with the subject
in number. ’Colours’ is part of a prepositional
phrase and not the subject. Thus the
verb must be singular. Either is coming. )

Neither of them is coming.
( Note here that ’them’ is part of a prepositional
phrase and therefore not the subject.
Because the subject is ’neither’, the verb
must be singular: Neither is coming.)

When objects are used with either or neither
and they are both singular, the verb
must be singular too:

My manager or yours is the correct person
to ask. ( Either has been left out. )

Neither
our secretary nor our Managing Director
has the key to the data centre.

In the above examples, are and have are
both incorrect, even though they may
sound correct.

However, the verb must be plural if one or
more of the objects is plural:

Neither my secretaries nor yours are
authorised to sign corporate documents.

Neither our private investigators nor our
corporate attorney were able to find out
what motivated the lawsuit.

Grouping

Either and neither can be used alone,
with of or with two objects. Either can be
used with exactly one or and neither can
be used with exactly one nor. Constructs
like the following are thus grammatically
incorrect:

Either James or Susan or Robert will
attend the tradeshow.

Neither Benjamin nor Norbert nor Joachim
is expected to attend.

Beware the double negative

The double negative is not allowed in English.
For example, Mr Barnett doesn’t have
no expense account. The double negative
implies that he does.

When using either and neither with
negated verbs, it’s easy to accidentally
create a double negative. The following
are incorrect:

Our secretary wasn’t able to find the report
neither on her desk nor on her boss’s.

I could not voice neither my approval nor
my disapproval.

To prevent double negatives, use either
if the verb is negated. If the verb is not
negated, use either or neither depending
on your meaning. Correct:

Our secretary wasn’t able to find the report
either on her desk or on her boss’s.

I could not voice either my approval or
my disapproval.

Schlagwörter: either, neither, englisch, Grammatik, grammar, OWAD

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