neither ... nor

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neither ... nor

In writing and formal speech, neither and nor are used for linking two words or expressions in order to make a negative statement about two people, things, qualities, or actions. You put neither in front of the first word or expression and nor in front of the second one.

For example, instead of saying 'The President did not come and the Vice-President did not come' you can say 'Neither the President nor the Vice-President came'.

Neither he nor Melanie owe me an apology.
He neither drinks nor smokes.

In conversation and in less formal writing, people sometimes use or after neither. For example, they say 'He neither drinks or smokes'. However, in formal writing you should always use nor.

You always put neither immediately in front of the first of the words or expressions that are linked by nor. Don't put it any earlier in the sentence. Don't say, for example, 'She neither ate meat nor fish'. You say 'She ate neither meat nor fish'.

In conversation, people do not usually use neither and nor. Instead of saying 'Neither the President nor the Vice-President came', you normally say 'The President didn't come and neither did the Vice-President'.

Margaret didn't talk about her mother and neither did Rosa.
I won't give up, and neither will my colleagues.

Instead of saying 'She ate neither meat nor fish', you normally say 'She didn't eat meat or fish'. Instead of saying 'She neither smokes nor drinks', you say 'She doesn't smoke or drink'.

Karin's from abroad and hasn't any relatives or friends here.
You can't run or climb in shoes like that.
Collins COBUILD English Usage © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 2004, 2011, 2012


(ˈnaiðə) , ((especially American) ˈni:ðə(r)) adjective, pronoun
not the one nor the other (of two things or people). Neither window faces the sea; Neither of them could understand Italian.
neither … nor
used to introduce alternatives which are both negative. Neither John nor David could come; He can neither read nor write.

As with either … or , the verb usually follows the noun or pronoun that comes closest to it: Neither Kate nor Susan is responsible ; Neither she nor her children speak English .
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.
References in periodicals archive ?
Kaplan thanks her copy-editor for interventions over punctuation, but must presumably be responsible for her own grammar, slipping between singular and plural subject-verb agreement, confusing cases, or refusing the accustomed finality of 'neither ... nor' for a differently construed 'neither ...
Whereas the religious and the social distinctions are joined by "neither ... nor," the gender distinction is structurally related by "neither (or not) ...
In contrast with the definitive clarity at the end of The Triumph of Love, Orchards's conclusion is inconclusive; assertions have given way to apophasis: "Finis," "last," "Period," "Stop," "neither ... nor ...