How do you talk about two things in English? Whether you’re talking about two things that are similar or eliminating (getting rid of, deleting) two things, it’s important to have the right vocabulary. For that we have the words both, either, and neither in English.
Curious about how to use these words? Then read on to improve your English vocabulary!
Both, quite simply, is an easy way to talk about two things at the same time. We use both in English to talk about one thing and second thing. You can use it with two adjectives to help describe someone or something, and with two nouns to talk about two of something.
- He is both well-read and intelligent.
- She is both kind and experienced in her field.
- We both have full-time jobs.
There are a lot of cases where you can use the word both, but this is the most straightforward (direct) and simplest way to use it.
But if you want to use the negative form of both, how do you do that?
When it comes to negatives involving the word both, you use the words neither and nor in English. You can’t use the word both in a negative sentence in English.
So how do you use the words neither and nor in a sentence?
Where you would use the words both and and in a positive sentence, you would use the words neither and nor in a negative sentence when referring to two things that have negative qualities.
- He is neither well-read nor intelligent.
- She is neither knowledgeable nor experienced in her field.
- Neither he nor I have full-time jobs.
Neither and nor are great words to use to compare two things in a negative way.
But is there a way to talk about something that has one characteristic, but not another?
Sometimes people and things have one characteristic but not another. Or you’re not sure which characteristic (of a few characteristics) someone has. They could have one thing about them, but not the other. It’s on these occasions (situations) that you can use the words either and or.
You use either and or in the same positions as both, and, neither, and nor.
- She is either in California or in Stuttgart. (He can be in one, but not in both.)
- Either she is on time or late to work. (She can be on time or late to the office, but not both.)
- Either you have enough money to buy a ticket or you don’t! Just tell me!
Both, either, and neither are very important words in English. They’re all used quite frequently to compare things or talk about things that people or things are or are not.
Have you ever used both, either, and neither before? Have you heard them used before? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!
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Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher, blogger, yoga instructor, and loves both English grammar and writing!
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