Which of the following sentences:

I am able to attend neither of those meetings

I am not able to attend neither of those meetings

is grammatically correct?

What I'm trying to say is basically "I won't be able to attend those two meetings".

  • 2
    "I am not able to attend neither of those meetings" would only ever be used to contradict say "Peter is able to attend neither of those meetings" and even then sounds forced. Use what you suggest at the end. Oct 22, 2021 at 13:20
  • 1
    "Neither" is in a sense a contraction of "not" and "either," so you don't need the additional "not" (unless, as Edwin notes, you actually want a double-negative, which is unlikely). Oct 22, 2021 at 13:27
  • 2
    "I am able to attend neither" OR "I am not able to attend either". Oct 22, 2021 at 13:39

3 Answers 3


In English when there are multiple nouns in a sentence, English grammar dictates they have to be arranged in a specific order. For example if a native English speaker is describing the appearance of an apple, they will say "big red shiny apple" instead of "shiny big red apple" or "big shiny red apple". It's more to do with the type of noun dictating which order it goes in. Speaking in the wrong word order will make you sound weird and foreign.

This is one of those rules that every native English speaker knows and will use inadvertently but they are not consciously aware that the rule exists. It's just become a habit to them so they do it without prior thought or thinking about it, or anything premeditated, it's just spontaneous.

The same concept (or similar logic) applies to your question with the ordering of words in a sentence, including what types of words are supposed to appear in what position according to their "parts of speech" and the specific type of the noun or verb that the word used falls into. This also has something to do with what "preposition words" or "article words" are supposed to appear before each noun (or pronoun), depending on the type of noun (or pronoun) it is.

While technically both sentences in your question are semantically correct, they are both not grammatically correct according to english grammar.

In English grammar we tend to avoid using a "double negative" in a sentence, which is 2 negative words in a sentence. For example the sentences "I did not do nothing" or "I cannot see no keys in this room", both of those sentences contain a double negative. The second sentence in your question is a double negative, so instead of saying "I am not able to attend neither of those meetings" like your question says, we would instead say (if you were a native English speaker) "I am not able to attend any of those meetings".

This makes your first sentence MORE grammatically correct than the second one.

Now the first sentence of your question, has the word "neither" in it. The word neither can only refer to two possible options. If there are three meetings being referred to by the speaker in your sentence, then the word "neither" isn't suitable and should be replaced with the word "none".

This means that the word "neither" in your sentence is only applicable to certain situations depending on the context, regarding a person rejecting all meetings, so it's context sensitive. But to use the word "none" it's universally applicable as it can be used whether there's 2 meetings being referred to (or in question) or if there's more than 2 like 3, 10, or 50.

  • 2
    I am not able to attend either of those meetings.
    – Lambie
    Oct 22, 2021 at 19:31

The kind of double negation1 facetiously showcased in Pink Floyd's We don't need no education generally only occurs with the kind of speakers who would say I can't... rather than I am not able to..., so you probably wouldn't encounter OP's second example in the real world. But you might encounter something like...

The boss says I gotta do A or B, but I can't do neither unless you help me
(should be can't do either)

To summarise, OP's first example is "reasonably" idiomatic (but nowhere near as natural as I am unable to attend either of those meetings), whereas the second example isn't remotely idiomatic. However, both are syntactically perfectly okay, and either might actually be "preferred" in specific contrived contexts that it's not worth going into here.

1 Note @AndyBonner's comment under the Question...

"Neither" is in a sense a contraction of "not" and "either," so you don't need the additional "not" (unless, as Edwin notes, you actually want a double-negative, which is unlikely)

...making the point that the "double negative" is because we've got both not able to and neither (the negated versions of able to and either) in the same construction.

  • I am not able to attend neither of those meetings. is not on.
    – Lambie
    Oct 22, 2021 at 19:33
  • Perhaps my text doesn't make the point clearly enough, but that is essentially what I intended to say above. People who say I am not able to (as opposed to people who say I can't) are very unlikely to use this kind of double negation. But I wouldn't see anything unusual about my example I can't do neither (more likely "neever") coming from a "lower register" speaker - particularly in SE UK, but maybe not so much in the US, I dunno. Oct 23, 2021 at 12:22
  • We're going round in circles (again! :). From my perspective, the fact that double negation normally only occurs in "downmarket" registers is precisely the point I intended to make when I posted this answer. What "additional explanation" do you think is currently lacking? Oct 23, 2021 at 16:26
  • I give up. Where's the "joke"? Oct 23, 2021 at 16:32
  • oic. Well, I could have gone for something like We don't need no stinking badges! from Blazing Saddles, which imho is more explicitly a "joke" (but I'm not sure I'd characterise it as "facetious", which at the time seemed like an important aspect for me to convey). Whatever - I can see what you're getting at, but I'm perfectly happy to leave my text "as is". The OP was happy to ask on ELU in the first place, so he should be able to understand the kind of text I write. Oct 23, 2021 at 16:40

I am able to attend neither of those meetings. [standard grammar]

I am not able to attend neither of those meetings. [not standard]

I am not able to attend either of those meetings. [also standard]

The second is a double negative. Although double negatives are used in speech in a variety of dialectal uses in speech (I ain't going nowhere today. or I won't go neither.), they are not something that is taught with the exception of a use like this:

I didn't say no answer was good. I said no answer was easy to understand.

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