How to use Nor
The word ‘nor‘ creates a certain unease about how to use it. Does it replace ‘or’? Is it used to mean something more specific? I always think that learning how to use a word correctly beings with truly understanding what part of speech it is, and what the word means.
What Part of Speech is the Word Nor?
Turns out ‘nor‘ is not just ‘or’ with an ‘n’ in front of it, to be used interchangeably.
‘Nor’ is a conjunction—a word that is used to join other words, phrases, or clauses.
* Some grammarians also say ‘nor’ is an adverb that modifies a noun to say, “also not”.
Lisa does not like grammar. Nor does Ethan.
Using Neither / Nor in Sentences
‘Nor’ is used in negative phrases most often after the word ‘neither’ as a lead-in to one or more members of a series—you need to use ‘nor’ before each item of your series.
Neither dogs, nor cats, nor mice, can fly.
When you’re using ‘neither’ / ‘nor’ in a sentence you need to be certain that the 2 words are used to join like grammar items—noun…noun, verb phrase…verb phrase.
Neither Richard nor Ken can sing.
I am neither going nor staying.
You also need to take note of the nouns on either side of ‘neither’ / ‘nor’, the verb must agree in number. Are they singular? Are they plural? Is it a mix of singular and plural?
If it’s a singular / plural mix in your sentence you’ll match the number of the verb to the nearest noun.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be.
singular singular singular
Neither men nor women are perfect.
plural plural plural
Neither the bird nor the cats are aware of one another.
singular plural plural
Nor Used in a Sentence Without Neither
‘Nor’ can also be used after an affirmative clause as a continuation of the clause:
Jane is always on time nor does she take sick days.
“Nor’ is also used to continue, and reinforce a preceding negative clause:
The war did not end, nor was there any lessening of hostilities.