Neutral is return path for an AC circuit which is supposed to carry current in normal condition. This current may be because of many reasons, primarily because of phase current imbalance and some time because 3rd and 5th harmonics also.
There may be others reasons too but the magnitude of this current is in fraction of phase current and in few case it can be even double of phase current. So Neutral wire is always assumed to be charged (in active circuit). This neutral wire is given to ground (by grounding) to make the second terminal of neutral wire at zero potential.
Earth or Ground
Earth or Ground is for safety concerns against leakage or residual currents on the system via least resistance path. While phase and neutral is connected to main power wiring, earth may be connected to body of equipment or to any system which in normal condition doesn’t carry current but in case of some insulation failure, is supposed to carry some minor current. This current is not directly coming from live or phase wire, but is from secondary links which was not in touch with live system in normal condition. This current is usually much lesser than main line current or phase current and mostly is in order of mA. But this leakage current is good enough to kill someone or may risk fire. Such current are being provided a low resistance path and sent to earth via earth wire. Because of the difference in application we never mix grounding of neutral and earth. However both are made grounded. If both will be mixed then the earth wire which is not supposed to carry any current in normal condition , may have some charges across and will become hazardous
Difference between Earthing and Grounding.
There is no different between Earthing and Grounding but these are the same terms used for Earthing or Grounding. Grounding is the commonly word used for earthing in the North American standards like IEEE, NEC, ANSI and UL etc while, Earthing is used in European, Common wealth countries and Britain standards like IS and IEC etc.