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Should I use 'or' or 'nor'?
Using “nor” in a list without “neither”

Translating this meaning into English:

There is a value that a computer user can set. Not setting the value is an invalid program state and should not be allowed. Setting and empty value is equally forbidden. If setting a value is done so:

value = "ExceptionalCoconut";

setting an empty value is done so:

value = "";

With the latter software command, an attempt to set the value is made but the actual value, between double quotes, is effectively empty. This should be disallowed.

Now on to the error message to display if either erroneous usage is attempted and my attempt at phrasing that in English:

value cannot be null nor empty.

I chose this over:

value cannot be null or empty.

Which one is correct — or or nor?

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marked as duplicate by TimLymington, MετάEd, jwpat7, Matt Эллен, StoneyB Sep 22 '12 at 13:51

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Cannot is one word. Can not can be misinterpreted. –  RegDwigнt Sep 17 '12 at 11:16
1  
If you're going to the trouble of detecting two distinct conditions, why not provide two distinct error messages? –  Hellion Sep 17 '12 at 13:36
    
@Hellion: that's a good idea. –  Robottinosino Sep 17 '12 at 14:15
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1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

value can neither be null nor empty.

It's more acceptable to use nor with neither in a sentence, rather than by itself. Although in some cases it might be acceptable to use only nor.

The sentence with or is also grammatically correct. But it might confuse some.

Related question: Should I use 'or' or 'nor'?

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