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The Official Tug of War Rules (link is PDF, here is Google quickview link) say:

The rope must not be less than 10 centimetres (100 mm), or more than 12.5 centimetres (125 mm) in circumference...

Since it's declaring a negation, shouldn't it be nor?

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I would write it as not less than 10 centimetres... in which case nor would be usual and better (I don't believe 'right' is suitable). Altering the word order seems to make either possible, but I'm not sure why. –  TimLymington Sep 17 '12 at 13:59

2 Answers 2

Nor is generally only used in conjunction with neither, so you could rewrite the sentence as:

The rope must be neither less than 10 centimetres (100 mm), nor more than 12.5 centimetres (125 mm) in circumference...

... but that's not necessary. The sentence is just fine as it stands.

You're parsing the sentence as if "not" and "or" were in opposition. They're not: "less" and "more" are the alternatives here. It might make more sense if you strip it down to:

...must not be less or more

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votes are currently tied 5 to 5. can any voters add input? –  DelvarWorld Jul 3 '12 at 0:43
    
This is correct, although "nor" could be used just as well. –  Mark Beadles Sep 17 '12 at 11:41

Although there are some people who are afraid to use nor without neither, that seems silly to me. I would certainly have written nor there in your example sentence. The OED supports this very sort of thing in its sense 3a for nor conj.1 (and adv.), which is:

3a. Following a word or phrase which is negated with not, never, etc.

Here are two of its citations for that sense:

  • 1934 ‘M. J. Farrell’ Devoted Ladies i. 36
    One must not be harsh to him, nor must an author betray too great a knowledge.
  • 2002 K. Matinuddin Nuclearization of S. Asia x. 200
    Non-Nuclear Weapon States..who are party to the Treaty, undertake not to receive nuclear weapons nor to manufacture them.

See? Perfectly natural. Your sentence involves an instance following not, which is directly covered above. I would have used nor.

There are other senses of nor without a corresponding neither, but I shall not list those here.

Nor shall I list them down here.

Nor here, either. :)

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I would say that nor is good for separating independent verb phrases, as in your two examples: "one must not be / nor must an author betray" and "not to receive / nor to manufacture". I still say it's not a good fit in a sentence with a single verb, such as "must not be less or more". –  MT_Head Jul 2 '12 at 1:13
    
But DelvarWorld is asking whether or is OK, not whether nor is OK! –  Colin Fine Jul 2 '12 at 10:19
    
I don't know what to believe anymore –  DelvarWorld Jul 2 '12 at 11:31
    
DelvarWorld asked whether there was a typo in the original sentence. I say NO; the sentence is fine as it stands, and in fact reads more naturally in its current form than if "or" were changed to "nor". @tchrist appears to be saying that YES, the current form is wrong. My feeling is that - whether using "nor" here is good grammar or not - it would break the implied parallelism of the sentence. –  MT_Head Jul 2 '12 at 16:09
    
Although you might choose to use nor instead of or, there is nothing really wrong with the sentence as written. –  Mark Beadles Sep 17 '12 at 11:41

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