Copyright
English Courses / Course / Chapter

Neither Nor Usage

Hedieh Najafi, Kerry Gray, Marc Mancinelli
  • Author
    Hedieh Najafi

    Hedi Najafi earned her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Arizona State University. She also has an M.A. and B.A. in English Language and Literature. In addition, she has several certificates and certifications such as Tesol Ontario, Laubach Literacy of Canada Tutor Certificate, and Financial Markets from Yale. In addition to teaching in North America, Dr. Hedi Najafi has taught in many institutions of higher education around the world. She has been teaching ESL, English, General Education, and Educational Leadership courses for the past twenty years.

  • Instructor
    Kerry Gray

    Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

  • Expert Contributor
    Marc Mancinelli

    Marc is a long-time HS English teacher and has taught at the college level. He has a master's degree in literature and a doctorate in education.

How to use neither/nor in sentences? Learn how to use neither/nor following correct grammar and usage. See various examples of neither/nor. Updated: 07/27/2021

Table of Contents

Show

Neither/Nor Usage

Neither/nor are conjunctions that connect two parts of a sentence to each other. They must be used in parallel structures; i.e., both sides must be balanced. They indicate negation.

Some of the neither /nor rules are as follows.

  • If neither is followed by a verb, nor must be followed by a verb, too.
  • If neither is followed by a noun, nor must be followed by a noun.
  • If neither is followed by a phrase, nor must be followed by a phrase.
  • If neither is followed by a clause, nor must be followed by a clause, too; the clause after nor must be inverted.
  • If neither is followed by an adverb, nor must be followed by an adverb.
  • If neither is followed by an adjective, nor must be followed by an adjective.

Examples will be given in later paragraphs.

The use of neither nor with singular subjects.

Neither nor usage.

Neither Vs. Not

Although both neither and not are words to indicate negation in sentences, their parts of speech are different. While not is an adverb, neither can be a conjunction, adjective, or pronoun.

Neither

Neither can be

  • a conjunction
  • an adjective
  • a pronoun

Neither as a Conjunction

  • I cannot speak Spanish, and neither can my brother.
  • He does not drink coffee, and neither does his girlfriend.

Neither as an Adjective

Neither is used with a singular noun and singular verb.

  • Neither book is interesting.
  • Neither woman is an actress.

Neither as a Pronoun

Neither of is used with count nouns and pronouns; the verb is singular.

  • Neither of us is interested in politics.
  • Neither of these books is mine.

Not

Not is an adverb, and it is used for negation.

  • Do not run around the swimming pool.
  • Susan is not from Arizona.

When to Use "Nor" without "Neither"

Nor can be used by itself, without neither, in a sentence as a conjunction or coordinating conjunction. It indicates and follows a negation in the sentence.

Nor as a Conjunction

  • I will not negotiate with you nor (with) Jane.

Nor is a conjunction to connect 'you' and 'Jane' while showing negation.

Nor as a Coordinating Conjunction

Nor is a coordinating conjunction that connects two independent clauses to each other. As a coordinating conjunction, it is preceded by a comma.

  • This town has no hotels, nor does it have any motels.

In this sentence, nor has connected two independent clauses to each other. It is preceded by a comma.

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: When to Use Its or It's

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:04 Contrasting Options
  • 0:28 Either/Or, Neither/Nor
  • 1:16 Singular or Plural Verbs
  • 1:48 Practice
  • 2:34 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed Speed

The use of nor as a coordinating conjunction.

Use of nor.

Neither/Nor Examples

  • I neither speak Spanish nor understand it.
    • In this example, neither is followed by the verb speak, and nor is followed by the verb understand.
  • He likes neither apples nor oranges.
    • Neither is followed by the noun apples, and nor is followed by the noun oranges.
  • You neither know how to sing nor how to dance.
    • Neither is followed by the phrase how to sing; nor is followed by the phrase how to dance.
  • Sean neither drives a car, nor does he have a car.
    • In this sentence, neither is followed by a clause. Nor is also followed by a clause, and the clause is inverted.
  • My new dress is neither short nor long; it is the right length.
    • In this example, neither is followed by the adjective, short, and nor is followed by the adjective, long.
  • Our teacher speaks neither loudly nor softly.
    • Both neither and nor are followed by the adverbs, loudly and softly.

Nor Vs. Or

As coordinating conjunctions, both nor and or are preceded by a comma to join two independent clauses. However, nor can be used only for negation, while or can be used in both positive and negative sentences.

Nor and Or as Conjunctions

  • I cannot eat beef or chicken.

This sentence is a negative sentence as the verb is negated by not, i.e., cannot eat. Or is a conjunction; therefore, the sentence can be rephrased as: I cannot eat beef, and I cannot eat chicken.


  • I eat beef or chicken.

This is a positive sentence. The use of or shows two options.


To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

  • Activities
  • FAQs

Review

Let's review the relationship between "either" and "or," and "neither" and "nor." First, "either" and "or" are always paired together and "neither" and "nor" are always paired together—that is to say, we would never pair either/nor or neither/or. Second, in a string of items requiring a "nor," be sure to write "nor" before each.

Quick Check

Evaluate whether the following sentences are correct, and write "correct" or "incorrect" next to each.

1) I'd prefer either pasta or fish tonight for dinner.
2) Neither blankets or gloves or hats or my parka could keep me warm enough.
3) When I was young, I wanted to be either a fire fighter or a police officer.
4) Neither Sarah nor Hayley nor Kevin nor Emmanuel said that the commissioner made a good speech.

Make Your Own

Use the following information to practice making your own sentences. Be sure to use either/or and neither/nor correctly.

5) State that you don't like hot dogs and you don't like hamburgers.
6) Tell your friend that you are fine ordering Chinese food and you are fine ordering Mexican food for dinner.
7) Someone's at the door and it could only be one of two people—state who it might be.
8) You didn't see four movies—tell us that you didn't see them, and be sure to list them all.

Practicing Subject-Verb Agreement

When using either/or and neither/nor, be sure to maintain subject-verb agreement. You can do this by making sure that the verb and the noun that is closest to the verb agree with each other. For instance, you might say, "Either Jennifer or the twins are going to be here first." In this case "are" is used since "the twins" is closest. The opposite—though also correct—would be, "Either the twins or Jennifer is going to be here first." In the below items, choose the word to make proper subject-verb agreement.

9) Neither the 5th grade teachers nor the principal (is/are) coming to the meeting.
10) Either the lieutenant or the officers of Car 58 (is/are) going to respond to the emergency.

Answer Key

1) Correct
2) Incorrect
3) Correct
4) Correct

5) (Example) I like neither hot dogs nor hamburgers.
6) (Example) I am fine with either Mexican or Chinese for dinner.
7) (Example) That has to be either Pete or Ace at the door.
8) (Example) I have seen neither Field of Dreams nor Home Alone nor Alien nor From Here to Eternity.

9) are
10) is

How do you use neither correctly?

In order to use neither correctly, the subject has to be singular, and it has to agree with the verb.

How do you use neither/nor example?

Neither nor are used in negative sentences such as this:

Ms. Jackson has neither a piano nor does she play it.

Is it neither nor or neither or?

The correct answer is neither nor. It is not neither or.

Example: I can neither speak Chinese nor understand it.

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back

Resources created by teachers for teachers

Over 30,000 video lessons & teaching resources‐all in one place.
Video lessons
Quizzes & Worksheets
Classroom Integration
Lesson Plans

I would definitely recommend Study.com to my colleagues. It’s like a teacher waved a magic wand and did the work for me. I feel like it’s a lifeline.

Jennifer B.
Teacher
Jennifer B.
Create an account to start this course today
Used by over 30 million students worldwide
Create an account