We can use 'either' in negative sentences, for example
"I didn't like either of the candidates" (from a dictionary entry)
Can we use 'either' in a sentence like this:
"Either of the candidates doesn't speak Russian" ?
I'd prefer 'neither', would you?
Last edited by emsr2d2; 19-Jul-2011 at 08:28.
I'm trying to come up with a 'rule'... is there any?
Neither person speaks Russian = there are 2 people. Person 1 can't speak Russian and Person 2 can't speak Russian. This is a negative statement.
Either person can complete the form = there are 2 people and a form which needs to be completed. It is unimportant which person completes it. This is a positive statement.
Please see my edit to my original answer because I didn't read the rest of your sentence properly. You originally said that you thought "Neither of the candidates doesn't speak Russian" would be correct. That's wrong. Using "neither" and "doesn't" would give you a double negative, something we [almost] never use. If you start a sentence with "neither" the rest of the sentence uses the positive. "Neither of the candidates speaks Russian".
Your original sentence could be taken to mean that they both do speak Russian!
Hmm... Is it possible to rewrite the dictionary example sentence using 'neither'?
I didn't like either of the candidates = I liked neither of the candidates.
PS. No, I didn't mean 'neither of the candidates doesn't speak Russian'. I meant "neither of the candidates speaks Russian'. I'm just trying to figure out where it is possible to use 'neither' instead of "not + either".
I don't like either of you = I like neither of you.
I don't want either of those cars = I want neither of those cars.
You can't have either of my pens = You can have neither of my pens.
Obviously, either/neither are used when there are only 2 things to choose from.