Neither vs. None

Generally, these two words have many similarities and slight differences. In this lesson, we will learn all about them.

"Neither" vs. "None" in the English Grammar

What Is Their Main Difference?

We use 'none' to talk about not one of a group of three or more things or people. We use 'neither' to talk about not one or the other of two people or things.

Neither

'Neither' means not one of the two options.

Neither of them knew the answer. Neither Pam nor Jake.

'Which car do you buy? The blue one or the red one?' 'Neither is to my taste.'

Singular or Plural Verb?

'Neither' (as the subject) is always used with a singular verb. However, sometimes in everyday English, you might hear 'neither' used with plural verbs, but it is technically wrong.

Neither woman is accustomed to being kept waiting.

Neither boy was tall.

Grammatical Function

'Neither' can be used as a:

'Neither' as a determiner is used before singular countable nouns to define them.

Neither theory is too difficult for the average person to understand. → determiner

As a pronoun, it is used alone with no nouns after it, so it is used directly before the verb.

Neither of the enormous crabs moved across the ocean floor in search of food. → pronoun

'Neither' as a pro-sentence substitutes sentences to agree with a negative statement; however, it is used with affirmative verbs, because it is a negative marker by itself.

I didn't see a knight in the movie. Neither did Alan. → adverb

As a conjunction, it is usually followed by 'nor' and it is used to connect two clauses.

The sun cannot be vanished behind the clouds neither in California nor in Arizona. → conjunction

None

'None' means not any of the three or more options.

None of his friends knew Sara. She was a total stranger.

"What would you have, a bowl of soup, French fries, or steaks?" "None are my favorites; I would like to have some salad."

Singular or Plural Verb?

'None' (as the subject) can be used with either singular or plural verbs, based on things that it is referring to. We mean whether to use singular or plural verbs with 'none' depends on our purpose when we are talking if we are referring to more than one we have to use plural verbs and if we are talking about one individual it is better to use a singular verb.

'How many soldiers are killed?' 'None are killed.'

'How much soup is left?' 'None is left.'

Grammatical Function

'None' can be used as a:

As you know, pronouns are used alone before verbs. It means they are not followed by any nouns. Since 'none' is used as a pronoun, it is not followed directly by nouns.

None could predict the winner of the Superbowl.

None was left in the pizza box.

'None' as an adverb is used in some fixed expressions such as:

  • none the better
  • none the worse
  • none the wiser
  • none too

Singular or Plural Verbs?

With the pronoun, 'none,' we are allowed to use both singular or plural nouns but keep in mind that using a singular verb is more formal and safer to use in writings. Remember using the plural form of the verb which is by the way an informal way of talking is more common to be used in American English.

None of us was waiting for John to arrive except Rachel.

'Neither of' and 'None of'

As it was discussed pronouns cannot be used before nouns, so what if we want to use them before nouns, noun phrases, or pronouns? here is the tip; add the term 'of' to them so that they can be added to words other than verbs.

  • 'Neither of'

is used before pronouns and noun phrases.

Neither of their new policies helped decline the inflation.

Neither of them is kind.

  • 'None of':

is used before pronouns, noun phrases, and nouns (without determiner).

None of them accept their mistakes.

None of the teachers are expert enough.

Warning

'None' cannot be followed immediately by a noun.

None of the children washed their hands. (Not "None children washed their hands.")

Negative Markers

  • 'Neither' and 'none':

Both 'neither' and 'none' are followed by affirmative verbs, but the whole statement conveys a negative meaning. This is because 'neither' and 'none' both are negative markers so they themselves change the meaning of a sentence to negative and using a negative verb with them would make a double negative that is technically wrong in English

Neither of the shirts is fit. (Not "Neither of the shirts is not fit.")

None of the shirts are fit. (Not "None of the shirts are not fit.")

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