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George Galloway is an outspoken MP with excellent rhetorical skills. I will take a part of his speech to convey the idea of my question.


Iraq is neither strong, independent nor even a single country any more.

Would it be correct to rephrase the sentence above using this order "not/neither/nor" as follows:

Iraq is not strong neither independent nor even a single country any more.

And so on, can I form sentences similar to it, for example:

I am not mean neither greedy nor arrogant.

Would that be grammatically correct?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

No, it wouldn't. The order can either be

I am not X nor Y nor Z.

Or it can be

I am neither X nor Y nor Z.

Or even

I am not X and neither am I Y or Z.

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Thank you very much indeed. And the form that George used is correct as well, right? Iraq is neither X, Y nor Z. – Bright Polyglot Feb 2 '13 at 22:54
I'm not sure it is not grammatical but I would not use it myself. – terdon Feb 2 '13 at 23:06
Some people will tell you that neither can only be used with two items, and of those some would object even to terdon's second example here. However it's long been used for more than two items, and terdon's second example can definitely have a good effective punch as can Galloway's, so I for one wouldn't be one to say it's not allowed. In cases where you could use "none of" or "none" rather than "neither", it's often a good idea to do so, but frankly Galloway's statement would be weaker if it was rewritten to that, so I wouldn't consider that a case. – Jon Hanna Feb 3 '13 at 0:05
@terdon @ Jon Hanna In his well-known testimony before the US senate, George Galloway's opening statement was as follows: Senator, I am not now nor have I ever been an oil trader and neither has anyone on my behalf. (Sic) He used this order: not, nor and neither So is it correct to say: Iraq is not strong nor independent and neither is a single country anymore .. or .. I am not mean nor greedy and neither am I arrogant? – Bright Polyglot Feb 3 '13 at 0:27
I find the sentence I am not mean nor greedy and neither am I arrogant clumsy. However, Galloway's is not. I believe the difference lies in that the neither in his case refers to a third person but I cannot tell you why. Perhaps @JonHanna can. – terdon Feb 3 '13 at 0:33

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