Either-Or & Neither-Nor in Spanish

Instructor: Janet Long

Janet has taught college Spanish and English courses and has master's degrees in Spanish literature and TESOL.

It's time for a vacation! Would you like to go swimming at the beach or hiking in the mountains? Maybe you don't want to do either. This lesson will show you how use either/or and neither/nor in Spanish to express choices and opinions.

Having Choices

You are given options every day, like when you order in a restaurant or when you choose what you're going to wear. One choice that you probably enjoy making is where you go on vacation! There are many options to think about - swimming at the beach, hiking in the mountains, or shopping in a big city.

When you think about where you want to go, you may use the phrase 'either - or' to list your choices. At the same time, you probably think of some things you definitely do not want to do on your vacation. Maybe you think of these using the phrase 'neither - nor.' In this lesson, we'll learn how to say 'either - or' and 'neither - nor' in Spanish and how to use them in sentences.

Either - Or

Maybe you already have some ideas of where you'd like to go on vacation. You know that you would like to go to one location or another location. You can use the phrase 'either - or' to give two choices in a sentence. When you want to say 'either - or' in Spanish, you use the expression o - o - After each 'o' you put the name of one of your choices.

For example, if you know that you want to go to 'either the beach or the mountains' for your vacation, you would say Quiero ir o la playa o las montañas. The word la playa means beach in Spanish, and las montañas means mountains. Each of these is a choice for your vacation, so they come after the 'o.'.

However, there is a special change that happens whenever the word for one of the choices begins with the letter 'o.' When you have a choice that begins with the letter 'o' you will change it to 'u.' We do this so that we are not saying the letter 'o' two times together. Let's look at an example. If you will go to either New York or Orlando on vacation, in Spanish you would say that you would go to o Nueva York u Orlando.

English Spanish pronunciation
Either _____ or _____ o _____ o _____ oh _____ oh _____
(if one choice starts with the letter o) o _____ u _____ oh _____ oo _____

Neither - Nor

You might also know some places that you do not want to go to on your vacation. In this case, you would use the phrase 'neither - nor' to tell the names of two places that you don't want to visit during your vacation.

In Spanish, we use the phrase ni - ni - to say this. So, if you do not want to visit New York or Orlando during your vacation, you would say No quiero ir a ni Nueva York ni Orlando.

English Spanish Pronunciation
Neither _____ nor _____ ni _____ ni _____ nee _____ nee _____

Either/or and Neither/nor in sentences

As the Object

Now that you know the meanings of o - o - and ni - ni -, let's look at two different ways that we can use them in sentences. First, like we saw in the examples before, you can use these expressions after verbs, as direct or indirect objects. If the verb is positive and you are listing choices, you use o - o -. So, if you are on vacation in New York, and you want to go to a museum or a park, you might say Quiero ir o al mueso o al parque.

If the verb is negative, and you are listing two things you do not want to do, you use ni - ni -. It's important to remember that ni - ni - always comes after a negative verb. To say that you don't want to go to the museum or the park while in New York, you would say No quiero ir ni al museo ni al parque.

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