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Remember that the words “also”, “as well” and “too” mean the same thing. The only difference is how we use them in a sentence: “as well” and “toogo at the end, and “also” goes after the first auxiliary verb, or before the main verb. But an important feature of these words is that we can only use them in questions and positive sentences, not negative sentences. If we want to express the same idea that they express but in a negative sentence, we need to use the structure “not…either.”

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How do we use this structure? It’s very easy: we put the “not” together with an auxiliary verb, and we put “either” at the end of the sentence. Remember that there are many different auxiliary verbs we can use in this situation, including “might,” “can,” “will,” “have,” etc. The list goes on and on. But let’s see some examples of this.

~ I cannot play the violin and I cannot play the piano either.
~ He promises that he won’t steal and he won’t swear either.

As you can see from the examples above, there are at least two ‘things’ mentioned in each sentence. In the first sentence, we have the violin and the piano, and in the second sentence, stealing and swearing. But of course, with the help of context, it’s possible to use either on its own; meaning, it’s possible to use it in a sentence while only mentioning one ‘thing’ in that sentence. We can observe this in the example conversation below:

~ Ralph: “Why don’t we go to a nightclub Saturday night?”
~ Jim: “I can’t do that! You know my mother-in-law is visiting this weekend.”
~ Ralph: “Wonderful. How about a couple drinks at O’Brien’s then?”
~ Jim: “I can’t do that either. Stop torturing me.”

As we can see, we’ve mentioned the first ‘thing’ (going to a nightclub) earlier in the conversation, so when we use the word “either” for the second thing (going to a bar), it’s not necessary to say both ‘things’ in one sentence.

One last note of interest: there are two ways to pronounce the word “either.” We can pronounce the first sound like the letter ‘I’ or like the letter ‘E.’

Practice what you’ve learned in the exercises!

A. Edstrom

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Alex Edstrom
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