Distributives Both Either Neither

What are distributives? What is the distributive both?

Distributives – both – neither – either

Introduction


1) Distributive determiners or simply distributives refer to a group of people or things, and to individual members of the group. They show different ways of looking at the individuals within a group, and they express how something is distributed, shared, or divided.

Both of us like Mexican food.
2) Both refers to the whole pair and is equivalent to ‘one and the other’. Both can be used with plural nouns on its own, or it can be followed by of, with or without an article. When followed by a plural pronoun, both must be separated from the pronoun by of.

Both (of) my parents approve of me going to college.

I told both of them to give me a call.

Both cannot be used with singular nouns, because it refers to two things.

Both my sister likes travelling. Both my sisters like travelling.

Either is positive and when used alone refers to one of the two members of the pair. It is equivalent to ‘one or the other’. Because it refers to just one member of a pair, either must be used before a singular noun. It can also be used with a plural noun or pronoun if followed by of.

Either day is fine.

We could stay at either of the hotels.

Either can also be used with or in a construction that talks about each member of the pair in turn. The meaning remains the same, but in this case either is not functioning as a distributive. It is functioning as a conjunction.

You can have either ice cream or cake.



Neither is negative and when used alone refers to the whole pair. It is equivalent to ‘not one or the other’. Because it refers to just one member of a pair, neither must be used before a singular noun. It can also be used with a plural noun or pronoun if followed by of.

Neither date is convenient for me.
Neither of these dresses suits her.

Neither can also be used with nor in a construction that talks about each member of the pair in turn. The meaning remains the same, but in this case neither is not functioning as a distributive. It is functioning as a conjunction.

It is neither snowing nor raining.

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