Does this sentence have two independent clauses?

I do not like biology nor do I like chemistry.

To me the last clause seems dependent, but I find sources that tell me to place a comma before nor, thus making it an independent clause. What are your thoughts?

  • 1
    Commas are used before dependent clauses as well, if you really want to know.
    – Robusto
    Jan 30, 2013 at 1:35
  • Exactly. In English, commas have to do with intonation, not grammar, as in German. Jan 30, 2013 at 2:40
  • I'd write I like neither biology nor chemistry or I don't like biology or chemistry or I dislike biology and chemistry. The shorter the better because the 3rd sentence is perfectly clear. "3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out", George Orwell.
    – user21497
    Jan 30, 2013 at 6:27

3 Answers 3


They can stand alone as sentences:

I do not like biology. Nor do I like chemistry.

Therefore they are independent clauses.

They can also work with a comma as you suggest, or a semicolon:

I do not like biology, nor do I like chemistry.

You could use a dependent clause to express the same thing:

I do not like biology nor like chemistry.

(Valid, but awkward in this particular case. A comma would be valid but not necessary here, and probably improve it)

Or just simple conjunction on the nouns:

I do not like biology or chemistry.

  • You will also find old uses in the form of “I do not like biology nor chemistry.” Modern phrasing tends to do it differently though.
    – tchrist
    Jan 30, 2013 at 3:02

They are two independent clauses. They could be expressed as

I do not like biology, and I do not like chemistry.

The word nor serves as both a conjunction and a negation, standing in for the and and the not.

Macmillan defines nor as a conjunction

used after a negative statement when adding another negative statement
I have not been asked to resign, nor do I intend to do so.
She could not speak, nor could she understand anything we said.

While in declaratory independent clauses, the most common word order is subject-verb, common usage reverses the standard order in the second independent clause to verb-subject when using nor.

  • 2
    Though the inversion is only with auxiliaries, the same as with other negative subject-auxiliary inversion as "In no way could she understand...", "At no point do I intend..."
    – Jon Hanna
    Jan 30, 2013 at 2:20

Yes, these are most definitely two independent clauses. It's like saying "I do not like biology, and I do not like chemistry." But in the cases of voicing a negative, we use "nor". This, however, is changing in many regions of the U.S. Some actually omit the "nor" and use "and". "Nor" is used mainly in writing and not so much in spoken American English. People do not prefer to use it, nor are they likely to change.

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