English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Is it correct to use more than one "nor" clause in a "neither" expression?

For instance: "Neither the question, nor the answers, nor the comments"?

Even if it is, is it so rarely used that it would be better to reword the sentence, or it is fine to use it?

share|improve this question
According to [english.stackexchange.com/a/53729/3579 this answer] (to a different, though related, question), it is correct. Still, I'd like to have an answer about the second part of the question. – o0'. Feb 5 '13 at 23:56
up vote 12 down vote accepted

Some people will insist that correct usage insists that neither can only be used with two items.

I am not one of those people, and I consider that sentence perfectly good.

Kipling wasn't one of those people either:

But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,

When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!

It might be a bit too good, in fact! The format used gives a nice rhythm that can make it stand out strongly. If it's not a sentence it's appropriate to have stand out strongly, then "none of the questions, answers or comments" might be a better wording.

But if it's not standing out when you read over, or if it is an appropriate place to have some extra rhetorical oomph, then keep it.

share|improve this answer
+1 Kipling for Wodehouse. I don't suppose you keep Graves and Shaw in your quiver as well? – StoneyB Feb 6 '13 at 0:01
@StoneyB I'd be surprised if I never quote them at some point. Though in another field I'll object that the problem with Graves is that he's too good a poet, which led people to take The White Goddess way too seriously. The effect on Wicca was of debatable value (while we stole from Kipling too, we only stole his poetry, so the effect was entirely positive). – Jon Hanna Feb 6 '13 at 0:08
"Do you like Kipling?" / "I don't know, you naughty boy, I've never kippled!" – MT_Head Feb 6 '13 at 0:12
@JonHanna This side of the pond the people who take WG too seriously mostly can't read the poetry - or the prose either. What'd you steal from Kipling? The incidental verses from Puck/Rewards? – StoneyB Feb 6 '13 at 0:26
@StoneyB our borrowing from Graves wasn't all bad because some can read the poetry (both side of the pond), but you're guessing correctly with Puck, specifically "A Tree Song". – Jon Hanna Feb 6 '13 at 0:34

The unofficial motto of the US Postal Service (adapted from Herodotus) is

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

Yes, it's perfectly fine, and not at all unusual.

share|improve this answer
@Lohoris Real Kipling beats fake Herodotus every time. – StoneyB Feb 6 '13 at 0:02

Surely "neither" and "either" are indeed to be used only with two objects. If someone asks you whether you want a spoon, fork or knife, I don't agree it sounds right to say "either" or "neither" as an answer.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.