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Can I say "It’s neither humanitarian or environmental, nor political or ideological, nor economic or management crisis." Is it ok to use "neither ..or.., nor ..or.." or perhaps it's better to say "neither ...and..., nor...and..., nor...and..."?? I just dont want to write so many "nor"-s: "It’s neither humanitarian, nor environmental, nor political, nor ideological, nor economic, nor management crisis."

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  • "The crisis is neither humanitarian, nor environmental, nor political, nor ideological, nor economic, nor management." Is how I would structure it unless you want to completely reword it. Try reading this
    – Hank
    Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 20:39

2 Answers 2

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You do not need to repeat "nor" for each item in the list.

This crisis is neither humanitarian, environmental, political, ideological, economic, nor related to management.

Edit:

Since comments sometimes disappear, and are not searchable, I will preserve the Janus version from the comment in this answer:

“It is neither a humanitarian, […] economic, nor managerial crisis."

I confess I had not noticed this comment when I wrote my answer. And similar to OP, I like this version better than the sentence I proposed. But it's the same basic idea -- use "nor" only once at the end.

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  • Dear friends, thanks a lot for your answers, they were very helpful!! I think I'll go with the version @JanusBahsJacquet suggested, although the other comments were also very useful for me. Huge thanks! Commented Feb 18, 2017 at 10:27
  • In a flat, technical sentence like the example, the list (with an Oxford comma and "nor" before the last word) is the best choice, but if you want to emphasize how numerous the items are, repeating the "nor" is an excellent rhetorical device. "I received food on neither Mondays nor Wednesdays nor Fridays!" Commented Feb 18, 2017 at 16:52
  • @Malvolio - What is an Oxford comma? Commented Feb 18, 2017 at 21:29
  • @aparente001 -- Something I learned from my parents, Ayn Rand and God. Three things I hate are lists, Oxford commas, and irony. Commented Feb 18, 2017 at 22:05
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Frankly I think it sounds best with the word nor throughout. To use "nor ... or" is inconsistent, and to use "nor ... and" will turn the meaning of the sentence into something completely different than you intended.

If you don't want so many nors, use commas:

It is neither (sic) humanitarian, environmental, political, ideological, economic, nor management (sic) crisis.

There are still some questionable usages in the wording of this sentence that it inherited from the original, two of them indicated by sic.

First, you used neither when there are more than two alternatives. (I would note, however, that while some people might find this questionable, it is not definitely wrong.)

Second, the word management is a noun, while the other alternatives are adjectives. The phrase management crisis is a legitimate usage by itself, but in this usage management binds to crisis much tighter than an adjective would: grammatically, you can have a political and ideological crisis but not a management and economic crisis. So the sentence lacks parallelism.

Third, the sentence is missing an article: "It is a crisis" is grammatical, but "It is crisis" is not.

One possible suggestion is,

It is neither a humanitarian, environmental, political, ideological, or economic crisis nor a management crisis.

I would not be satisfied with this in my own writing, but I think it's an improvement. In order to write this really well, I think you have to organize the ideas a little differently.

Some alternatives that may work better were suggested in a comment. One is to use an adjective such as managerial rather than the noun management, preserving the parallelism of your sentence. Another alternative is,

It is neither humanitarian, environmental, political, ideological, nor economical, nor is it a management crisis.

(This is a direct quote from the comment by Janus Bahs Jacquet; I cannot take credit for it.)

Which of these alternatives works best for you would depend on what you really meant by the original sentence. When you wrote environmental, for example, did you mean to say that "this" is not any kind of environmental issue, or did you specifically mean to say it is not an environmental crisis?

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    Note that using (n)either with more than two elements is perfectly fine to most people, including some very fine authors. Also, your rephrasing is assuming that the parallel is meant to be on different types of crises. While that's definitely a possibility, it's not the only one. For yours, I'd suggest “It is neither a humanitarian, […] economic, nor managerial crisis”; but also possible is “It is neither humanitarian, environmental, political, ideological, nor economical, nor is it a management crisis”. Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 20:57
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Thank you, those are very well-made points and I have modified the answer to try to take them into account.
    – David K
    Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 21:21

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