Either/Or vs. Neither/Nor

I recently was asked when to use neither/nor instead of either/or.  The rule is pretty simple.  You use either/or when you are talking about something in a positive sense.  You use neither/nor when you are talking about something in a negative sense.

Remember either must be paired with or and neither must be paired with nor.  Below are some examples of both pairs of words.


I like neither chocolate flavored ice cream nor vanilla. (Of course, this is not true. I love all flavors of ice cream.

There are neither dogs nor cats in my house, only birds.


Either come over here and talk to me or I will go over there and talk to you.

My son is either very sleepy or just plain lazy as he just fell asleep while he was eating his dinner.



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