So and neither have very similar uses in the English language, with a distinct difference. Here is a closer look at that difference to help you use them well.
In the English language, some words and phrases can easily get confused. So and neither is one such pair of words. The terms “so” and “neither” are used to show agreement with an original statement, but they are not interchangeable within English grammar.
When used to show agreement, so and neither take the role of an adverb. Using these words appropriately will help you write clearly and get the correct answer on grammar tests. This particular pair of words is not too difficult once you know how to tell the difference. With a few tricks, you should be able to get them right every time.
Using so or neither shows agreement with a previous statement. When the statement is negative, use neither. When the statement is positive, use so. In these statements, the verb tense needs to match the verb tense of the previous statement. It also needs to match the subject.
Both so and nether can also work as conjunctions. So is a coordinating conjunction that combines two sentences into one compound sentence, and neither is a conjunction that connects two items in a negative statement. It always uses the word “nor” with it.
Learning to use these correctly is not difficult. As long as you can remember that “neither” goes with “negative,” you will know which one to use.
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So and Neither: Two Words to Show Agreement
So and neither are adverbs that show agreement. They often start a sentence after a statement of fact or opinion, and they show that another party, usually the speaker, agrees with the previous statement.
When to Use “So”
The word “so” is used to compare items with positive statements. In other words, you would say, “so am I”, if you agree with the original person’s statement and the statement is positive.
Here are some examples:
- Sarah likes chocolate. So do I.
- Johnathan is traveling to Texas for spring break. So am I.
- The class will go to the museum for their end-of-the-year field trip. So will I.
The statement “Sarah likes chocolate” is a positive statement. Thus, saying “so do I” is appropriate.
When to Use “Neither”
The word “neither “ is appropriate when agreeing with a statement that is a negative statement. In other words, you would say, “neither am I” if you agree with a statement, but the statement is negative.
Here are some examples:
- Samuel doesn’t like coffee. Neither do I.
- She won’t be going to prom this year. Neither will I.
- They aren’t fans of the new principal. Neither am I.
The statement “Samuel doesn’t like coffee” is a negative statement. Thus, the response “neither do I” is correct.
Matching So and Neither Phrases to the Verb Tense
When writing phrases that use so or neither, you must match the verb tense to the phrase that comes before. People who are skilled at spoken English tend to get these English expressions right naturally. However, English language learners sometimes struggle because they are less adept at English conversation.
Here are the common verb tenses and the correct way to use so and neither with them:
- Simple present tense: Use “do/does”
- Simple present tense with an auxiliary verb: Use “am/is/are”
- Present continuous: Use “am/is/are”
- Simple past tense: Use “did”
- Simple past tense with a helping or auxiliary verb: Use “was/were”
- Present perfect tense: Use “have/has”
- Simple future tense: Use “will”
- Modal verbs: Repeat the modal verb
Here are some examples that show these verb tenses in use:
- Simple present: Sarah likes horses. So do I.
- Simple present tense with an auxiliary or helping verb: Sarah does not like cats. Neither do I.
- Present continuous: Samantha’s going to Yale. So am I.
- Simple past tense: Timothy went to the store. So did I.
- Simple past tense with a helping or auxiliary verb: Joshua wasn’t at work last night. Neither was I.
- Present perfect tense: They’ve visited Paris. So have I.
- Simple future tense: She will go to Washington D.C. next year. So will I.
- Modal verbs: Emma can speak Spanish. So can I.
Find out more about verb tenses in past participle examples.
Using So and Neither with Subjects Other Than “I”
All of these examples used “I” as the subject, but there are other subjects that can work with these verbs. For example, someone could say:
John hates pizza sauce. So does Samantha.
In these instances, the verb tense needs to match in both statements, and it needs to fit the nouns serving as the subject. Here are some more examples of positive sentences that use a subject other than “I.”
- We live in Chicago, and so does the Smith family.
- Emma enjoys playing the piano. So do Scott and Emily.
- My parents love to visit the cinema. So does my brother.
Here are some examples of negative sentences that use neither with a subject other than “I.”
- My brother didn’t go to college. Neither did my sister.
- Julia isn’t French, and neither is Saul.
- The dog won’t go into the crate, and neither will her puppy.
In each one of these examples, the verbs match in number and tense, so they are grammatically correct.
Understanding the Phrases “Me Neither” and “Me Too”
“Me neither” is another phase you can use when agreeing with a negative statement. It replaces the neither + auxiliary + subject I construction (neither do I). This construction ends to show up in conversational English.
Here is an example:
- Henrietta: I don’t like sushi
- Me: Me neither.
In this example, the speaker is agreeing with Henrietta’s original statement, but saying “neither do I” would feel too formal.
On the positive side of this equation, there is no informal usage of the word “so.” Instead, you would say “me too.” Here is an example:
- George: I just love Christmas!
- Me: Me too!
You could substitute “so do I” for “me too,” so this is an appropriate way to use the word.
Other Uses of So and Neither
Both so and neither also can show up as conjunction.
So is one of the seven coordinating conjunctions that can connect two independent clauses using a comma, such as:
- I needed more milk, so I sent my husband to the store.
- She was not willing to visit her in-laws, so she stayed home for the holidays.
- The dog was sick, so his owner took him to the vet.
Neither when paired with the word “nor” can serve as a conjunction to connect two or more negative alternatives. Here is an example:
- Neither Thanksgiving nor Christmas had snow this year.
- Neither John nor James was willing to discuss the controversy with their teacher.
- Neither penguins nor otters can live in the water all the time.
Using the word “neither” makes the sentence negative, so you do not have to add a negative adverb to the verb. Find out more about types of conjunctions.
FAQs About So and Neither
How to agree in English with so, neither, and too?
In the English language, you can use three words to agree with a previous statement: so, neither, and too. So is used to agree with positive statements. Neither is used to agree with negative statements. Too is also used for positive statements but in a more casual tone.
Is it neither do or neither does?
The verb tense you use with the word neither depends on the subject of the sentence and the tense used in the previous sentence. For example, if your subject is “I” and the previous sentence was simple present, you would say “neither do I.” However, if your subject is “he” you would say “neither does he”.
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