Both, either, neither, so and nor are all adverbs which we use to show how two things are related to each other or to other ideas.



We often use both to show that two things are the same in some way.  We can use both to refer to nouns, verbs, adjectives and sometimes adverbs. We also use both to emphasise that two things do the same action or are affected in the same way.  We can also use both as a plural pronoun which refers to two previously mentioned things, typically nouns and adjectives.

a) Oaks and maples are both common trees in this part of the country and both of them grow in our garden.

b) We had enough time to both study and play with our friends.

c) We sell that type of shirt in both red and green and we have both in your size.




We use either to show that there is a choice or possibility between two things.  We can use it with nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs on some occasions.  When we use it to refer to two options directly we have to use the word or between them.


Either can also be used as a singular pronoun which refers to two previously mentioned nouns, adjectives and sometimes actions.  Used in this way it is often very similar to the pronoun both, but either is always singular and both is always plural.

d) Josh always wears either light or dark blue jeans to work.

e) Now that we’ve finished the first part, we can either take a break or continue working until everything is finished.

f) I am going to ask either Joe or Rob to help me set up for the party. Either of them would be a good option, but I can only choose one.




We use neither to show that two things are not possible or valid. As with both and either, we can use neither with nouns verbs adjectives and sometimes adverbs using the word nor between the two words neither refers to.

Neither can also be a singular pronoun.

g) Tess started to cry when she saw that neither of her parents had come to the airport to get her. Neither had remembered her and it broke her heart.

h) Yesterday the staff told us that guests can neither eat nor drink while in the pool.

i) I would say that our house is neither big nor small. It’s a comfortable size.

j) The police said that the thief answered their questions neither honestly nor intelligently.



Either vs Neither

Neither can only be used in affirmative clauses.  When we want to use neither in a negative clause, we use either instead.

k) We can neither speak nor use or mobile phones

We can’t speak or use our mobile phones either.

l) I have neither of the documents we need.

I don’t have either of the documents we need.




We can use so to add more examples or information to a positive statement.


m)) Bonnie learned to ride a bike on this street, and so did Holly.

n)) Ice cream is a very fattening summer snack and so are chips.




Nor is like an opposite to so which is used to add more examples or information to a negative statement.  We use NOR + AUXILIARY VERB + SUBJECT.

o) I am not interested in your product, nor is anyone else in this office.

p) We’ve never been to Belgium, nor have we been to anywhere else in northern Europe to be honest.


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