As a native speaker, the basic usage of "neither" and "nor" are perfectly clear to me. However, natives may suffer from colloquial usage sounding more normal than formal grammar. I definitely have that with this one. I am not entirely sure whether the following sentences are technically correct, which is due to the lack of "neither", normally used to negate, in these sentences:

  1. A nor B is not true.
    • (There is a negation in there, but this sounds strange to me.)
  2. A nor B is true.
    • (Sound better, as though the "neither" is merely skipped, but I imagine this might be the one that is technically wrong.)
  3. A nor B nor C is true.
  4. A nor B nor C is not true.

It would be nice to hear from someone who is really sure about these things, as opposed to me only judging by the sound of it.


  • 6
    All of (1-4) are ungrammatical; you can't delete neither that easily. Nor by itself has other uses, e.g I haven't seen her, nor have I talked to her, which means I haven't seen her, and I haven't talked to her. DeMorgan's Laws are part of English, it appears. – John Lawler Jun 19 '16 at 18:20
  • 1
    I think once you get beyond non-trivial logic, English sentences become very awkward, and it's better to use mathematical logic notation. – k1eran Jun 19 '16 at 19:17
  • @JohnLawler You have my intuition's full support. "Nor A nor B is true" is merely a matter of replacing "Neither" with "Nor", but one cannot omit both as I have done above, I would say. Both A and B have to be negated and this is done with neither, nor or a not + verb. Nor A nor B is true = Neither A nor B is true != A nor B is true. Nor A nor B is not true = Neither A nor B is not true != A nor B is not true. The latter set is rather silly and cumbersome, but I'm interested in the effect of the negation "is not". Would you agree with my conclusion? – JGTP Jun 20 '16 at 9:38
  • @k1eran Agreed, hence maths. – JGTP Jun 20 '16 at 9:41
  • @JGTP: I'm afraid I can't agree, because I don't know what your conclusion is. Not all the sentences you cite are grammatical English, so their value in an argument is not clear. BTW, is not is not "a negation". Is is an auxiliary verb for predicate nouns and adjectives; not is a negative. They can (and almost always do) get contracted to isn't; saying is not without contraction marks a local context with special rules and meanings (like mathematics or law). As to the scope of negation, that varies like the scopes of modals and quantifiers; they're all operators. – John Lawler Jun 20 '16 at 14:34

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