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either … or, neither … nor

The correlative conjunctions eitheror and neither … nor co-ordinate two or more words, phrases or clauses.

Note that the constructions following these correlatives should be parallel in structure. That is, they should have the same structure: if a noun is used after one, then a noun must follow the other; if a prepositional phrase is used after one, then a prepositional phrase must follow the other; and so on.

  • Either she goes or I go.
  • I did not communicate with the deputy minister either by telephone or by letter regarding this matter.
  • Neither Nova Scotia nor New Brunswick is involved in the project.
  • Neither the hockey players nor the Toronto fans were happy with the final score.
  • For dessert, you can have either ice cream, lemon pie or chocolate cake.

When these conjunctions are used to join two or more subjects, the verb should agree in number with the nearer subject.

  • Neither my friends nor I am interested in modern art.
  • Neither I nor my friends are interested in modern art.
  • Either Ashley or her assistants are accepting the award.
  • "Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these courageous couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."