either/or, neither/nor


I usually avoid these words because I don't know how to use them. What's the latest word on these words?

asked Mar 26 '12 at 22:16 Janet Kay Jensen New member

either/or indicates possibility, neither/nor negates both as a possibility.

Moira CroleyMar 26 '12 at 22:23

agree. either means there "is" a choice available.

JoeMar 26 '12 at 23:42

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3 answers


"Either/or" means that a statement is true about one of the two things or persons mentioned, but it doesn't matter which one.


"Either Jack or Jill can unlock the door." (Both of them have the key, so it doesn't matter which one you ask).


"Either Jack or Jill has the keys" (I don't know which one has them, it could be Jack or it could be Jill."


"Neither/nor" is the opposite of "both/and," expressing that the statement is false for both items and person mentioned:


"Neither Jack nor Jill can unlock the door." (Jack doesn't have the keys and Jill doesn't have them).

link comment answered Mar 26 '12 at 22:27 Daniel Nieciecki New member

Either/or is when you are giving someone a choice. Neither/nor is when you are telling someone that they are not allowed to use both options.

"Sally could go to either the store or the bank after work."



"Sally could go to neither the store nor the bank after work because she left late." (This could also be written "Sally couldn't go to the store or the bank after work because she left late" because instead of inserting 'neither', you negate the main theme of the sentence with the 'could not'.)

link comment edited Mar 26 '12 at 22:23 Katharine New member

You can use either a spoon or a fork.  You would use neither a knife nor a spatula.

link comment answered Mar 26 '12 at 22:20 Georgia Correy New member

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