Posted by: episystechpubs | August 19, 2014

Editor’s Corner: Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers sang it, danced it, and skated it; Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong took it to another level when they crooned the argument about who says toe-MAY-toe and who says toe-MAH-toe—but we’re here to talk about either and neither today. No matter how you say them, here are a few tips on these words and their pals “or” and “nor.”

· First, remember this mantra:

Either/or, neither/nor

Either/or, neither/nor

· Second, look at when to use them:

The either/or pair is used for positive, affirmative situations, when there is a choice between two possibilities. For example:

· You can have either the sapphire tiara or the aquamarine tiara.

· We can either swim or sail, but we don’t have time for both.

The neither/nor pair is used in a negative sense (think neither/nor—negative) to show that two things are not true. For example:

· Neither business nor pleasure brought Mr. Bond to the Poconos; he was there to fight.

· I find neither mountains nor molehills much of an obstacle.

· Third, consider these rules for the verbs you use with the either/or and neither/nor pairs:

· When both elements are singular, use a singular verb.

o Either the dog or the cat can stay in the garage. (Dog and cat are singular, so the singular verb “can” is used.)

o Neither Rocky nor Leo knows how to fix a flat tire. (Rocky and Leo are singular, so the singular verb “know” is used.)

· When one element is plural, use a plural verb.

o Either your father or his friends are going to clean up the beer and peanuts. (Friends is plural, so the verb “are” is used.)

o Neither the basketball nor the soccer balls came filled with air. (Balls is plural, so the verb “came” is used.)

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

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