Introduction

You are going to learn how to use both, either and neither to express yourself in speaking and writing. Of course this episode is all about grammar, but it is a grammar tool you would want to learn for the ultimate goal of expressing yourself better in English.

Audio Episode

Both, Either, Neither

both, either, and neither for two things

We use both/neither/either for two things.

  • Both restaurants are good,
  • Neither restaurant is expensive.
  • We can go to either restaurant. I don’t mind.

You can also use both/neither/either without a noun:

  • ‘Which do you prefer, basketball or tennis?’ ‘It’s hard to say. I like both.’
  • ‘Is your friend British or American?’ ‘Neither. She’s Australian.’
  • ‘Do you want tea or coffee?’ ‘Either. I don’t mind.’

Checkpoint 1

Complete the sentences with both/either/neither.

1. ‘Do you want tea or coffee?’ ‘______. I really don’t mind.’
2. ‘What day is it today – the 18th or the 19th?’ ‘______ . It’s the 20th.’
3. a: Where did you go on your trip – Korea or Japan? b: We went to ______. A week in Korea and a week in Japan.
4. ‘Shall we sit in the corner or by the window?’ ‘______. I don’t mind.’
5. ‘Where’s Lisa? Is she at work or at home?’ ‘______. She’s away on holiday.’
6. ‘Is it true that Kate speaks Spanish and Arabic?’ ‘Yes, she speaks ______ fluently.’

both of…, neither of…, either of…

We use both of / neither of / either of + the/these/my/Tom’s,…etc.

  • Both of these restaurants are good.
  • Neither of the restaurants we went to was expensive.
  • I haven’t been to either of those restaurants.

You don’t need of after both.

  • Both of these restaurants are good. OR
  • Both these restaurants are good.

We also use both of / neither of / either of + us/you/them:

  • (talking to two people) Can either of you speak Russian?
  • I asked two people how to get to the station, but neither of them knew.

We say ‘both of’ before us/you/them (you need to use of):

Both of us were tired. (not Both us were …)

After neither of … a verb can be singular or plural:

  • Neither of them is at home. OR
  • Neither of them are at home.

Checkpoint 2

Choose the best answer to complete the sentences below.

1. ______ my parents are from Egypt.
2. To get to the town center, you can walk along the river, or you can go along the road. You can go ______ way.
3. I went to Carl’s house twice, but ______ times he wasn’t at home.
4. ______ Tom’s parents is English. His father is Polish, and his mother is Italian.
5. I saw an accident this morning. One car drove into the back of another. Fortunately, neither driver was injured, but ______ cars were badly damaged.
6. I have two sisters and a brother. My brother is working, but ______ my sisters are still at school.
7. I asked two people how to get to the station, but ______ knew.
8. I was invited to two parties last week, but I couldn’t go to ______.
9. There were two windows in the room. It was very warm, so I opened ______.
10. Sam and I often play tennis, but we’re not very good. ______ can play well.
11. I tried two bookshops for the book I wanted to buy, but ______ had it.

both…and, neither…nor, either…or

both … and …

  • Both Chris and Paul were late.
  • I was both tired and hungry when I arrived home.

neither … nor …

  • Neither Chris nor Paul came to the party.
  • There was an accident outside our house, but we neither saw nor heard anything.

either … or …

  • I’m not sure where Maria’s from. She’s either Spanish or Italian.
  • Either you apologize, or I’ll never speak to you again.

Checkpoint 3

Write sentences with both...and/neither...nor/either...or

1. Chris was late. So was Pat.
2. He didn’t say hello, and he didn’t smile.
3. It was a boring movie. It was long too.
4. Joe doesn’t have a car. Sam doesn’t have one either.
5. Emily speaks German and she speaks Russian too.
6. Ben doesn’t watch TV and he doesn’t read newspapers.
7. Is that man’s name Richard? Or is it Robert? It’s one of the two.
8. I don’t have time to go on holiday. And I don’t have the money.
9. We can leave today or we can leave tomorrow – whichever you prefer.

either/neither/both vs. any/none/all

either/neither/both (two things) and any/none/all (more than two)

  • There are two good hotels here. You could stay at either of them.
  • There are many good hotels here. You could stay at any of them.
  • We tried two hotels. Neither of them had a room./Both of them were full.
  • We tried a lot of hotels. None of them had a room./All of them were full.

Checkpoint 4

Complete the sentences with neither/either/none/any.

1. We tried a lot of hotels, but ______ of them had a room.
2. Sam has two sisters, but I haven’t met ______ of them.
3. Emily has four brothers, but I haven’t met ______ of them.
4. There were a few shops in the street, but ______ of them was open.
5. Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey – have you been to ______ of these countries?
6. I could meet you next Monday or Thursday. Would ______ of those days suit you?
7. Mark and I couldn’t get into the house because ______ of us had a key.
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