Neither vs. Nor

'Neither' and 'nor' are easily used by native speakers, but they are somehow hard for beginners. So, let us start learning about these two words.

What Are Their Main Differences?

These two words are commonly used together, and usually 'nor' follows 'neither'. The main difference between 'neither' and 'nor' is their grammatical rule. However, we will take a look at it closely. Now let us see how they work.


Grammatical Functions

  • 'Neither':

can have different grammatical functions as follows:

  1. as a determiner
  2. as a pronoun
  3. as an adverb
  4. as conjunction
  • 'Nor':

comes before a set of things or actions that are rarely possible to be involved or to happen. It usually follows 'neither'.

  1. as a conjunction

Neither Tom nor his girlfriend tried to make their relationship work.

They neither end nor continued their friendship.

Nor Can Be Used with a Set of Words

It is said that 'neither' and 'nor' are used before only one noun. But you can name a set of words at the end of a clause with 'neither' and 'nor', if you repeat 'nor' before every single word.

He likes neither fish nor shrimps nor crabs.

They accepted neither my friend nor her boyfriend nor her mother to enter the fair.

Do They Rely on Each Other?

'Neither' and 'nor' as conjunctions have different rules. 'Neither' can be used on its own, while 'nor' rely on the existence of 'neither' because it follows neither.

I wanted neither doll. (Not "I wanted nor doll.)

They looked for neither the girl nor the boy. (Not "They looked for nor the girl nor the boy.")


Grammatical Functions

Both 'neither' and 'nor' can be conjunctions.

Neither and Nor as Synonyms

'Nor' can mean exactly the same as 'neither', and it can be replaced by it.

"I hate egg plants." "Nor do I = Neither do I."

What They mean

'Neither' and 'nor' are used in a negative sense to show that either option is not chosen, for example; The man neither got married nor stayed single.

The man neither got married nor stayed single.

She wanted neither to take a bath nor to sleep.

How They Are Used

'Neither' and 'nor' both can be used before one noun and they cannot be used before a set of things, in standard English.On the contrary, 'nor' has a special grammar rule that, makes it an exception which we have discussed in the article.

He will miss neither his dad nor his mom because they were cruel to him.

I can accept neither your present nor your marriage proposal.

Neither and nor Are Parallels

Neither and nor should agree on what is used after them. For example, if there is a noun after 'neither', nor must be followed by a noun or if 'neither' is used with a verb phrase we must have a verb phrase after 'nor'.

She cook neither dinner nor cook lunch. (Correct answer → She neither cook dinner nor cook lunch.)

Here in this example, dinner is a noun while cook is a verb by converting the place of neither before the main verb we can have a correct sentence.

Samuel drank neither tea nor drank coffee. (Correct answer → Samuel drank neither tea nor coffee.)

The Difference between 'Nor' and 'Or'

We can use 'nor' in a sentence if the second disjunctive in a negative sentence is a verb clause. We use 'or' in a sentence if the second alternative in a negative sentence is an adjective, adverb, and a noun. 'Nor' seems a little informal since, 'or' seems formal. nor is used only for one word while or is used to show connections between more words.

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