What Are Their Main Differences?
As you know, 'either' is used without any nouns afterward alone before the verb of the sentence as a pronoun. As a determiner, 'either' is used before singular nouns to define them. As an adverb, 'either' is used to agree on a negative statement. As a conjunction, it is usually followed by 'or' and it connects two clauses.
I didn't feel numb after the long reclining on my arm and Sara didn't
As a determiner, 'both' is used before plural nouns. As you know, a pronoun, it is used immediately before the verb of the sentence. As a conjunction, it is followed by the linking word 'and', and it is good to know that in this function it can be followed by two singular or plural nouns.
What They Mean
When it comes to choosing between two options 'either' refers to only one of them. It means we are not allowed to choose both of the choices, only one is permitted.
When given all the data on
When it comes to choosing between two options, 'both' is used to choose all of the two choices. It means we can have two out of the two.
Verbs That Follow 'Either' and 'Both'
Since 'either' refers to only one choice between the two, the verb after it is used in the singular form. However, in informal spoken English people use a plural verb with 'either' that is technically wrong.
Because 'both' refers to two choices out of the two, the verb after it is used as a plural verb. Remember there is no other choice in the grammar of both. We mean you cannot use a singular verb with both at all.
Nouns That Follow 'Either' and 'Both'
As a determiner, 'either' is followed by a singular noun. Even if we are going to mention two options, the noun after either must be singular.
You will face
As a determiner, 'both' is followed by a plural noun. There is a case in which we put a singular verb after 'both,' but in this use, the structure is (both + a singular noun + and + a singular noun).
When we broke in, we found
We have lost
What about Negative Verbs with 'Both'?
Since we are not allowed to use a negative verb with 'both,' we use 'either' instead of 'both' with the same meaning.
Let us take a look at the table below to share some more differences:
|Following noun||When using determiners||Following linking words||Following verb||Negative verb|
|Example of either||Either skirt is fine.||Either of these girls is smart.||It was either the cat or the dog that broke the cup.||Either skirt is fine.||He didn't love either of the girls.|
|Example of both||Both skirts are fine.||Both of the girls are smart./Both these girls are smart||It was both the cat and the dog that broke the cup.||Both skirts are fine.||He didn't love both of the girls.❌|
How They Are Similar in Their Meanings
As it was mentioned earlier, sometimes 'either' has a similar meaning to 'both' with a delicate difference. Technically 'either' means one of the two, but semantically it refers to both of the nouns. Look at the examples below:
"Which car shall I buy? The black one or the white one?" "
This sentence means the first one is good and the second one is good.
"It was a great hardship for
Using 'of' after Them
- 'Either' and 'both':
In Combination with Articles
You can never put an article directly before 'both' and 'either.' However, you can use determiners after them. Remember sometimes before the determiner we have 'of.'
both crimes are committed each year against those who inhabit the slum area of our city.")
When the nurse stuck the pin in
either of my numb legs I felt nothing.")
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