Which is correct? "Neither them nor us went to the show." or "Neither they nor we went to the show."

I think the second because Neither is the subject and so it should be in the nominative.

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    They are both correct, in appropriate circumstances. They are both wrong, in inappropriate circumstances. You're asking the wrong question; this is not a phrase, but a remnant of two sentences with everything but the pronouns wrung out by context. Perhaps You don't like us and You don't like them, then stitched together and wrung out into You like neither them nor us. Or it could be They didn't go to the show and We didn't go to the show, zapped into Neither they nor we went to the show. Wherever you'd use they or them in the original, you'd use it in the new sentence. – John Lawler Dec 6 '13 at 16:09
  • What has "neither ... nor" to do with the question? *"Them went to the show" or *"Us went to the show" make no sense. – Kris Jun 27 '18 at 9:28
  • The question is based on an incorrect phrasing. – Kris Jun 27 '18 at 9:29

The correct answer is

"Neither they nor we went to the show." (Neither modifies the subjects; if the subjects were not named, it would stand in for the subjects, but in your case, the subjects are named, and neither/nor both require subjects, therefore cannot be the subjects of the verb went.)

They and we are compound subjects of the sentence, therefore are in the nominative case; they and we are doing the action of the verb.

Them and us are in the accusative case - recipients of the action of the verb, or objects of a preposition:

We hit them. (direct object of the verb) The agreement was between them and us. (objects of the preposition 'between')

The Nominative (or subjective) is the form nouns take in the dictionary. I (accusative: me), we (accusative: us), he (accusative: him), she (accusative: her), they (accusative: them) and who (accusative: whom).

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    That is the traditional view. Others do not believe that case can penetrate inside the coordination, so that the argument is bogus. – Colin Fine Dec 7 '13 at 0:20
  • There is no a priori reason why just because the coordination as a whole is taking the role of subject or object, the constituent parts of that coordination must "see" that case and take corresponding forms. (After all, number is a property of a coordination which does not percolate into its members). Case does so in Latin, but English grammar is not Latin grammar; and the fact that this is a rule which most people have to be taught, and many people hypercorrect ("between you and I") circumstantially suggests that it may not be a rule of English grammar. – Colin Fine Dec 7 '13 at 1:00
  • Actually, I didn't say anything about whether case existed in English, but since you mention the point: you can make a case for nominative and accusative (on personal pronouns only) and genitive, though in each case it is debatable that this is a useful way to regard the forms. To claim that any of the others exist in English is to impose a structure on English grammar that doesn't match reality. There are certainly expressions (PP's) in English which correspond in meaning to various cases in inflected languages, but to describe these forms as cases in English obscures rather than explaining. – Colin Fine Dec 7 '13 at 14:38
  • Please see my comment at OP. – Kris Jun 27 '18 at 9:30

1) Why are we using "neither/nor" while it is more appropriate to use "not either/nor" and "neither/or?" 2) "They" versus "Them" would be contextual, as in subject versus object, respectively. (you noted that) What's worth noting, too, is when we use these terms in a sentence containing an elliptical clause.

  • Your first point seems nonsensical to me. "Neither... nor" sounds fine, while "not either/or" and "neither/or" both sound incorrect or at least awkward to me. Care to explain? – sumelic Jun 20 '15 at 9:27

"Neither" means "not either." No further negatives are warranted. "I do not want either bacon or eggs." Same as, "I want neither bacon or eggs." Why introduce a negative "nor"?

"I'm not going to the game." "Neither am I."

Am I trying to eliminate "nor" from the language? You betcha!

  • 1
    Ever heard of the concept of redundancy...? – Oliver Mason Jun 27 '18 at 8:19

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