Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I came across this sentence:

Cummings Motors, Smith Electric nor our subcontractors can be held liable.

Is this a proper use of the word nor?

I can understand

Neither Cummings Motors nor Smith Electric nor our subcontractors can be held liable.

But nor without neither? What about neither, nor, nor? Is one nor sufficient?

share|improve this question

1 Answer 1

You can only use "nor" if you have already introduced the negative. It is part of the "neither...nor" construct, which is negative form of "either...or". Strictly speaking, too, the form is only permissible when there are two options, but I have seen the count extended by repeating the "or/nor". Further, don't fall into the double negative: "Neither ...nor.... can" NOT "Neither...nor... cannot...". So your phrase should look something like "Neither Cummings Motors nor Smith Electric nor our subcontractors can be held liable".

Thinking a bit further, however, this looks like an excerpt from a piece of legal text; in that case there are probably more specialized grammatical structures ("legalese") that you should consider using.

share|improve this answer
    
I might have said 'None of Cummings Motors, Smith Electric, nor our subcontractors can be held liable'. –  WS2 Oct 22 '13 at 20:13
    
Your first sentence is absolutely wrong; see english.stackexchange.com/q/170696/8019. –  TimLymington Jun 19 at 12:28
    
@TimLymington See OED2 sense 3b. –  tchrist Jun 24 at 17:04

Your Answer

 
discard

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.