March 22, 2010 - Manjusha
Distributive pronouns are words like each, either and neither. Distributive pronouns refer to persons or things one at a time. For this reason they are always singular.
- Each took it in turn.
- Either of these roads leads to the railway station.
- Neither of these answers is correct.
Each, either and neither are followed by singular nouns and singular verbs. Each of, either of and neither of are followed by plural nouns and singular verbs.
- Each boy was given a gift.
- Each of the boys was given a gift.
Either means the one or the other of the two. Neither means not the one nor the other of the two. Hence either and neither should be used only in speaking of two persons or things. To speak of more than two persons or things, all, any, none or no one should be used.
- I like neither of the two sisters.
- I like none of the three sisters.
- You can take either of these two shirts.
- You can take all of these three shirts.
The distributive pronouns each, either and neither can also be used as distributive adjectives.
- Each boy took his turn.
- Neither answer is correct.