Neither/Nor: Meaning, Rule & Examples Video

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: When to Use Its or It's

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:04 Contrasting Options
  • 0:28 Either/Or, Neither/Nor
  • 1:16 Singular or Plural Verbs
  • 1:48 Practice
  • 2:34 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In this lesson, we will learn when to use 'either/or' and when to use 'neither/nor' when comparing two choices. We will also learn about subject/verb agreement when making these comparisons.

Contrasting Options

In George Orwell's Animal Farm, the narrator tells us, ''But still, neither pigs nor dogs produced any food by their own labour; and there were very many of them, and their appetites were always good.'' Have you ever wondered why an author uses the correlative conjunction pair 'neither/nor' instead of 'either/or' when discussing two contrasting choices? Let's find out.

Either/Or, Neither/Nor

How do I know when to use 'either/or' and when to use 'neither/nor'? Both choices are used during comparisons of two things, but the difference is:

  • Either/or is used when making a positive decision between two or more things.
  • Neither/nor is used when the choice is negative or the person wants to say that more than one thing is not true.

For example, look at the following sentence:

  • You may either go to the library or a book store to get a copy of the required reading materials.

In this sentence, the author uses 'either/or' because the choice is between two things, either of which will provide positive outcomes.

Now, take a look at this sentence:

  • You may neither go to the mall nor may you go to the movie theater.

In this scenario, the use of 'neither/nor' indicates that there are two possibilities, neither of which is a viable option for you.

Singular or Plural Verbs

How is the use of 'either/or' and 'neither/nor' affected by whether or not the options are singular or plural?

If both choices are singular, then the verb will be singular. For example:

  • Neither the dog nor the cat wants to go out in this heat.

If both choices are plural, then the verb will be plural. For example:

  • Neither the dogs nor the cats want to go out in this heat.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support