Igor Furlan
Neither / nor paired with more than two subjects

Hi.

I was studying grammar when this question came up on my mind. Every example that I see is something like:


Example: "Neither John, nor Andrew were playing in the yard".


Given that example, can I use it with more than two subjects?


Example: "Neither John, nor Andrew, nor Peter were playing in the yard".


Thanks.

Apr 9, 2017 3:48 AM
Comments · 4
I agree with you and Momo but just want to add that this emphatic way of speaking is formal and not needed when no emphasis is needed. In this case: "J, A and P were not playing in the yard."
April 9, 2017

Mr Lance has raised an interesting issue about the use of subject/verb agreement in "neither/nor" constructions.  I would respectfully disagree with:

"Neither the kittens nor the dog is... hungry"

There are at least three individual things which make up the subject and so notionally, the verb should be plural - here "are".  Also, "is" feels strange to my ear.

You could also say: 

"The kittens are not hungry and nor is the dog"   [Now we also bump into subject/verb inversion!]


April 9, 2017

Yes, you can use it with more than two subjects. 

Eg: 

"I like neither John nor Peter nor Judy."

"I neither like John nor Peter nor Judy. 

*Notice that you have a choice of placing "like" before "neither" or vice versa

Do take note that you must repeat "nor" after each subject you introduce ( NEITHER X NOR Y NOR Z)

Eg:

"We saw neither the plaza nor the coffee shop nor the train station. (Correct)

"We saw neither the plaza, the coffee shop nor the train station. (Wrong)

*Notice that "neither" is only used once, regardless of the number of times you repeat "nor"

I personally like to group singular nouns and plural nouns in a sentence if the nouns are similar. 

Example: "Neither the boy nor the girls are .." instead of writing "Neither the boy nor girl 1 nor girl 2.."

* Notice that the choice of verb depends on the noun after "nor"

Eg:

Neither the dog nor the kittens are...

Neither the kittens nor the dog is...

Lastly, I can simply write: None of the boys was playing in the yard. / John, Andrew and Peter were not playing in the yard.

Hope this helps.
Cheers, Lance



April 9, 2017
Yes, that's actually the correct way to use it when there are more than two subjects. At no point should you include "or" in the sentence when you already used the neither-nor combination. Your example is grammatically correct. 
April 9, 2017