neither


neither
neither
1. pronunciation.
Both pronunciations, niy-dhǝ and nee-dhǝ, are about equally common.
2. parts of speech.
Neither functions in two ways: as an adjective or pronoun, and as an adverb or conjunction.
a) adjective and pronoun. Neither means ‘not the one nor the other (of two things)’: Neither child knew the answer / Neither wanted to stay / Neither of them is right. When more than two items are involved, no is preferable for the adjective and none for the pronoun, although neither tends to be used informally especially for the pronoun. Normally neither governs a singular verb, but with the type neither of (+ plural) a plural construction is sometimes used to emphasize the plurality of the statement as a whole: Neither of them are suitable.
b) adverb and conjunction. Neither is regularly paired with nor, linking two subjects. If both subjects are singular and in the third person, the verb should normally be singular:

Neither its chairman, Sir Frederick Dainton, nor its chief executive, Kenneth Cooper, is planning any dramatic gesturesTimes, 1985

. But a plural verb is also attested historically and is still often found, especially when the essential plurality that is always present in neither comes to the fore:

Neither search nor labour are necessary —Dr Johnson, 1759

/

But neither Baker nor Bush are needed for thatNewsweek, 1991

. As an adverb, neither can be used with nor to link more than two items:

Buildings made of some translucent and subtly incandescent material, neither glass nor stone nor steel —Penelope Lively, 1991

. Neither is used as a quasi-conjunction in constructions of the informal type He's had no breakfast. Neither did he want any, in which it is a substitute for nor.
3. change of number and person with neither…nor…
Complications occur when the number (singular or plural) of the two subjects is different. If either of the subjects (especially the second) is plural, the verb is normally plural:

• Neither the Conservative figures nor the evidence of Labour's recovery since 1983 produce any sense of inexorable movement in political fortunes —Times, 1985.

A mixture of persons is more difficult, and can normally only be resolved by rephrasing, so that (e.g.) Neither you nor I am/are/is the right person becomes You are not the right person, and neither [or nor] am I.
4. position of neither and nor.
The position of neither and nor should be such that the grammatical structures are correctly balanced, as in This suits neither one purpose nor the other but not in ☒ This neither suits one purpose nor the other.
5. neither followed by or.
Although the OED gives plenty of literary evidence for neither followed by or rather than nor (e.g.

• I can neither tell how many we kill'd, or how many we wounded —Daniel Defoe, 1719)

in current usage this is considered incorrect and should be avoided.
6. neither replacing nor.
When nor follows a negative statement (not necessarily one with neither) and introduces a different grammatical subject, it can be replaced by neither:

• Becky is killed accidentally. The police don't care much; neither does Henry's wife —Publishers Weekly, 1974.


Modern English usage. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Neither — Nei ther, conj. Not either; generally used to introduce the first of two or more co[ o]rdinate clauses of which those that follow begin with nor. [1913 Webster] Fight neither with small nor great, save only with the king. 1 Kings xxii. 31. [1913… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • neither — [nē′thər, nī′thər] adj., pron. [ME naither, altered (by assoc. with eyther, EITHER) < nauther < OE na hwæther, lit., not whether (see NO1, WHETHER), not either of two] not one or the other (of two); not either [neither boy went; neither of… …   English World dictionary

  • Neither — Nei ther (n[=e] [th][ e]r or n[imac] [th][ e]r; 277), a. [OE. neither, nother, nouther, AS. n[=a]w[eth]er, n[=a]hw[ae][eth]er; n[=a] never, not + hw[ae][eth]er whether. The word has followed the form of either. See {No}, and {Whether}, and cf.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Neither Am I — Studio album by Bell X1 Released October 13, 2000 …   Wikipedia

  • neither — (conj.) O.E. nawþer, contraction of nahwæþer, lit. not of two, from na no (see NO (Cf. no)) + hwæþer which of two (see WHETHER (Cf. whether)). Spelling altered c.1200 by association with either. Paired with NOR (Cf …   Etymology dictionary

  • neither — ► DETERMINER & PRONOUN ▪ not the one nor the other of two people or things; not either. ► ADVERB 1) used before the first of two (or occasionally more) alternatives (the others being introduced by ‘nor’) to indicate that they are each untrue or… …   English terms dictionary

  • neither — nei|ther [ niðər, naıðər ] function word, quantifier *** Neither can be used in the following ways: as a way of showing how a sentence or clause is related to what has already been said: I can t play tennis, but neither can you. as a conjunction… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • neither */*/*/ — UK [ˈnaɪðə(r)] / UK [ˈniːðə(r)] / US [ˈnɪðər] / US [ˈnaɪðər] conjunction, determiner, pronoun Summary: Neither can be used in the following ways: as a way of showing how a sentence or clause is related to what has already been said: I can t play… …   English dictionary

  • neither — /nee dheuhr, nuy /, conj. 1. not either, as of persons or things specified (usually fol. by nor): Neither John nor Betty is at home. 2. nor; nor yet; no more: Bob can t go, and neither can I. If she doesn t want it, neither do I. adj. 3. not… …   Universalium

  • neither — nei|ther1 W3 [ˈnaıðə US ˈni:ðər] determiner, pron not one or the other of two people or things →↑either ▪ Would you like tea or coffee? Neither, thanks. ▪ It was a game in which neither team deserved to win. neither of ▪ Neither of them can cook …   Dictionary of contemporary English