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“Neither” and “Nor”: Definition and Examples

Updated on September 11, 2023Grammar
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When it comes to English grammar, the words neither and nor are often used together to present options. However, not everyone is familiar with the proper usage of these words. In this article, we’ll discuss what neither and nor mean and how to use them correctly.

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What is the meaning of neither and nor?

The construction neither and nor is a negative correlative conjunction that connects two or more parts in a series.

Neither refers to “two things or people that are not the case” or “not one or the other.” It is often used in conjunction with the word nor. For instance, in the sentence “Neither Tika nor Ike like to eat sushi,” neither is used to indicate that both Tika and Ika have no interest in sushi.

Nor is used to introduce a second negative clause, following neither, indicating that the second option is not true either. Nor is a conjunction, which means it connects two words or phrases. It’s often used in conjunction with the word neither. For example, “They neither ate nor drank anything.”

Rules for using neither and nor

When using neither and nor, it’s important to remember to use parallelism, meaning that if you use neither with a noun, then nor must also be used with a noun, and so on. Additionally, neither should be used in the same way as either. If either is used with a singular noun, neither should be used with the same singular noun.

 Either option is fine, but neither option is preferable.

Either option is fine, but neither options is preferable. 

It’s also important to note that nor does not have to be used in conjunction with neither. Nor can also be used as a subordinating conjunction or coordinating conjunction in its own right.

Betty will not go on vacation with you, nor with Sylvan.

I wasn’t going to drive, I wasn’t going to walk, nor was I going to bike.

Finally, when you use neither and nor in a sentence, subject-verb agreement is crucial. If all parts of the neither/nor construction are singular, treat the entire subject as singular. If one of the parts of the neither/nor construction is plural, the verb should match the final part in the series.

They neither smiled nor laughed.

Neither the cat nor the dogs are allowed on the couch.

Examples of neither and nor

Now, let’s take a look at some examples of neither/nor constructions in sentences:

  • Neither John nor Javier went to the party.
  • I neither like nor dislike cereal.
  • She neither confirmed nor denied the rumor.
  • They neither spoke nor made eye contact with each other.

In addition to everyday usage, neither and nor can also be found in literature. Here are some examples:

“I am neither good nor bad, but a little crazy.” —Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights

“He was neither thrilled nor disappointed.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

“It was neither a road nor a path but a route through a wild country.” —Cormac McCarthy, The Road

“For he was aware of the great secret, and that the youth was about to share it neither dismayed nor surprised him.” —Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

“I had neither kith nor kin in England, and was therefore as free as air—or as free as an income of eleven shillings and sixpence a day will permit a man to be.” —Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet

“He had neither companions nor friends, church nor creed.” —Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

In these examples, the use of neither and nor creates a sense of balance and symmetry in the sentence, making it pleasing to read and easy to understand.

In conclusion, neither is a word that’s often used with nor to indicate that both options are not true. By understanding the proper usage of neither and nor, you can improve your writing skills.

Neither and nor FAQs

How do you use neither/nor?

Neither and nor provide a way to connect two negative ideas in a sentence. They’re often used to express the idea that neither of two options is correct or applicable.

When should you use neither/nor?

You should use neither and nor when you want to express the idea that neither of two options is correct or applicable. This can be in a variety of situations, such as when you’re discussing your preferences or describing something that didn’t meet your expectations. It’s important to note that neither and nor should only be used when both options are negative.

What are some examples of neither and nor?

  • I’m neither hungry nor thirsty at the moment.
  • She neither spoke nor smiled as she walked by.
  • The film was neither exciting nor entertaining.

This article was written with the support of Grammarly’s generative AI features.

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