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I was listening to a speech the other day and I heard the speaker saying

We are not in a position to see it nor are we in a position to understand it.

If the speaker is right to say "nor are we", why is that? Or should it actually be "nor we are"?

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  • Addressed at Confusing nor .... Commented Oct 16, 2022 at 14:20
  • (Just playing with the title to see if it might increase the views and get you some other answers) Commented Oct 17, 2022 at 0:38

1 Answer 1

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Negation words at the beginning of a sentence entail Subject-Verb inversion:

In linguistics, negative inversion is one of many types of subject–auxiliary inversion in English. A negation (e.g. not, no, never, nothing, etc.) or a word that implies negation (only, hardly, scarcely) or a phrase containing one of these words, precedes the finite auxiliary verb, necessitating that the subject and finite verb undergo inversion. (Wikipedia)

Nor is a negation and therefore requires this inversion:

When a clause with neither or nor is used after a negative clause, we invert the subject and the verb after neither and nor:

  • We didn’t get to see the castle, nor did we see the cathedral. (Cambridge)
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  • Hmmm, only half the story. How about Neither James nor John completed their homework? Or For no reason, Trump would dance naked, or Never tired, she completed all her tasks with a cheerful optimism? Commented Oct 15, 2022 at 17:11
  • Care to say the other half?
    – fev
    Commented Oct 15, 2022 at 18:58
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    Yes, sure. Negative phrases at the beginning of a tensed clause cause SAI only when the negation scopes over the rest of the clause (in other words if they turn the clause into a negative clause). Compare: For no money would Trump dance naked and alternatively For no money Trump would dance naked. There's no dancing in the former, but there is in the latter. Second, the negative phrase must precede the subject/auxiliary. Negative words at the beginning of a clause/sentence don't cause SAI if they are within the Subject NP. Commented Oct 15, 2022 at 23:47

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