I'm doing subtitles for some videos on Youtube. I heard the words either and neither spoken in two different ways by the same person. Written it could be:

  • ee-ther versus i-ther or
  • n-ee-ther versus n-i-ther

Is there a rule for which pronunciation to use? Or is it just a matter of birth/taste/location?

  • No. They'd both be spelled either, no matter whether they were pronounced /'iðər/ or /'ayðər/; ditto neither. Trying to account for accent differences gets complicated for stuff that hasta be read fast. Stick with the spelling. Jul 21, 2014 at 18:34
  • Thanks, that's a good point for the subtitles. But as you might have noticed: I'm not trying to enter accent differences to the subtitles. I just wanted to understand why it's sometimes spoken one way and sometimes another because I'm curious about the english language. :-)
    – user85764
    Jul 21, 2014 at 18:45
  • It's something of a socioeconomic marker any more, plus it's been immortalized in a Cole Porter song. Otherwise, it's individual choice and habit. Jul 21, 2014 at 18:52
  • I guess this goes actually a little deeper than I wanted... But it's partly the same question. Thanks.
    – user85764
    Jul 21, 2014 at 19:18
  • This has been covered before, several times over in fact. Please use the site search before asking. Thank you.
    – RegDwigнt
    Jul 21, 2014 at 19:49

1 Answer 1


As with many of life's most vexing questions, the answer to this one was composed by the Gershwin and delivered by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong:

You say either and I say either.
You say neither and I say neither.
Either, either. Neither, neither.
Let's call the whole thing off.

  • Okay, so it seems to be a matter of habit or accent or coloration of the language a person is using. But is it somehow weird if you'd switch between both ways to pronunce it? I guess this doesn't happen if you're a native speaker, does it?
    – user85764
    Jul 21, 2014 at 19:55
  • 1
    Most people stick to one, but I have heard people switch and people who pronounce "either" and "neither" differently, and people who use one pronunciation for "either way" and the other for "either this or that". Jul 21, 2014 at 21:08
  • A comedian once got a lot of laughs out of this song by pretending to miss the point and pronouncing both instances of each word the same way. "You say ee-ther and I say ee-ther..."
    – keshlam
    Jul 22, 2014 at 5:03

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