18 April, 2019
In the American television show Saturday Night Live, actors make jokes of realistic situations and people, like politicians and sports personalities. In one program, for example, sports reporters Pete and Greg discuss a women's curling game between Finland and Paraguay. But it soon becomes clear that they do not understand the game.
A player from Paraguay scores and the men say this:
Pete: What an amazing curl – knocking team Finland right out of the house! Look at that – she is fired up. Bingo!
Greg: Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. I have no idea what is happening.
Pete: Neither do I, buddy. The rules of this game are baffling to me.
You just heard Pete say, "Neither do I" to show agreement with Greg's statement. Pete is saying that he also has no idea what is happening.
Very short responses like this are extremely common for English speakers around the world. We use them in speech and informal writing every day.
In English, we can use the words so, neither, too and either to say that what is true for some person is also true for us. In today's program, I will talk about so and neither.
The word so shows agreement with positive statements. And the word neither shows agreement with negative statements. You will hear and see examples of both today.
How they are formed
But first, we will talk about how to form these statements.
In a usual English statement, the subject comes first and is followed by the verb. The structure is:
subject + verb + rest of sentence
For example, if I say, "We visited a beautiful beach," the subject is we followed by the verb, visit.
But when we use so and neither to show agreement, the structure changes. The subject comes at the end and we mainly use an auxiliary verb. The structure is:
so / neither + auxiliary / be + subject
Auxiliary verbs are helping verbs that do things like form verb tenses. They can include do, be, have and others.
In Pete's statement "Neither do I," for example, the word neither is followed by the auxiliary verb do and the subject I.
To show agreement using so and neither, the choice of verb and tense in the response depends on the original statement.
So do I / Neither do I
Let's start with the simple present verb tense and I will show you what I mean.
We can say, "So do I" and "Neither do I" to agree with statements in the simple present tense.
Listen to an exchange between speakers:
Manny loves seafood! So do I.
I walk to work every day. So do I.
We do not think he's right. Neither do I.
Sima does not have a dog. Neither do I.
To demonstrate the form, all responses today will use the subject I. But other subjects can be used, such as a person's name, a thing or a pronoun. For example:
Sima does not have a dog. Neither does Manny.
So Am I / Neither Am I
Now on to the verb be.
To agree with simple present statements when the verb is be, we can say, "So am I" and "Neither am I."
Listen to how the speakers use them:
Kayla is allergic to milk. So am I.
We are not at the show. Neither am I.
We also use "So am I" and "Neither am I" to agree with statements in the present continuous verb tense. This tense is sometimes called be + -ing.
I am leaving for the summer. So am I.
Khadi is not teaching online. Neither am I.
So did I / Neither did I
Now, we will move to the simple past tense.
We can say, "So did I" and "Neither did I" to agree with statements in the simple past tense.
I wonder what our speakers will say this time:
My sister loved the surprise party. So did I.
I did not bring my library card. Neither did I.
So was I / Neither was I
And lastly, we can say, "So was I" and "Neither was I" to agree with simple past statements when the verb is be.
Listen to how the speakers use them:
They were tired after the flight. So was I.
Ramy was not in the group. Neither was I.
Well, I'll stop there.
We do not have time in this program to talk about other verb tenses and modal auxiliary verbs such as can and should.
What can you do?
Still, there's a lot you can do with what you learned! For example, check for today's uses of so and neither as you read stories, listen to music and watch shows and films in American English.*
And, when possible, try responding to other English speakers with today's shortened responses. Don't be afraid to make mistakes! Have fun with it. Soon, the responses will come more naturally. I promise.
So do we!
I'm Alice Bryant.
Alice Bryant wrote this story for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
*British speakers and speakers of other Englishes form some of the responses differently.
Words in This Story
curling – n. a game in which two teams of four players slide special stones over ice toward a circle
bingo – n. an expression that means "Yes, that's right!"
baffling – adj. very confusing
response – n. something that is said or written as a reply to something
positive – adj. affirming a truth or fact of something
negative – adj. expressing denial or refusal of something
tense – n. a form of a verb that is used to show when an action happened
practice – v. to do something again and again in order to become better at it