1. Link the Writer

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Grammar When is 'nor' proper to use

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Link the Writer, Jul 16, 2017.

    Consider these two sentences:

    "The last thing he neither needs or wants is to have them put his company on their shitlist."

    "The last thing he neither needs nor wants is to have them put his company on their shitlist."

    My gut tells me the second one...
     
  2. Earp

    Earp Copy That Contributor

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    In that example, I'd use 'or', but I don't know what the technical rule is. I guess I'd use 'nor' if the sentence read, "He neither needs nor wants ..."
     
  3. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    I learned either+or and neither+nor. Keep the Ns together. They're in love dontcha know.

    That said, the use of neither+nor seems off. You're saying that this is the last thing he wants, right? Neither+nor are negatives - if he wants neither this nor that then he doesn't want them, for instance. But if neither is the last thing he wants, then ... It's like "I could care less." It's not really what you mean to express.

    (I'm crazy tired and have a headache, hopefully I'm reading this right and making sense.)
     
  4. thirdwind

    thirdwind Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Yes, it's the second one. For a quick refresher, check out Grammar Girl's page.
     
  5. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    Do writers use nor the same way logicians do? To me, nor is used to express a positive result of two negative inputs.

    If they don't have coke nor pepsi, get me a root beer.

    p ↓ q = ¬(p ∨ q)
    p NOR q = NOT (p OR q)
     
  6. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    2p.png

    What's making this sentence wonky has nothing to do with the either-or, neither-nor choice. It's the fact that we don't tend to use either of those constructions in a sentence that's set up the way you've set this one up.

    I would say: The last thing he needs or wants is to have them put his company on their shitlist.

    The idea you're implying in your sentence has nothing to do with choices. You're ascribing the concept of both need and want to that end outcome of being on a shitlist, even though you're using the word or rather than and.

    For me, the either-or, neither-nor choice has to do with logical choices.

    "Dude, you're bugging me. Either shut up or get out."

    "Neither am I going to shut up nor am I going to get out. I pay the rent here, dickhole."

    Choices.
     
  7. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    That's how I've always leaned it. I would also add my two pennies that the answer might be different in dialogue or thoughts. "Nor" to me is something I usually only hear from people who are very formal and precise in their speaking use, and even then it might depend on the context. I might use it in a business meeting, but not when shooting the shit with my friends at a bar.
     
  8. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    You could have "He neither needs nor wants them to shit list his company" tbh though its a bit of a redundancy the needs/wants in this context.

    All you really need is " the last thing he needs is for them to shitlist his company"

    that aside Nor is the partner with neither as Or is for Either

    Either Link or Wreybies could make BSM a bacon sandwich

    Neither Link nor Wreybies have any intention of doing that
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2017
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  9. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Contributor Contributor

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    It's the second, BUT . . .

    The problem is that there is a subtle double negative going on and it is making the correct solution sound awkward.

    Consider this:

    He wants pie. (no negation)
    The last thing he wants is pie. (negation)​

    And now I hope you see that "the last thing" is a very quiet negation. It's reversing what follows, because it says he doesn't want pie at all. "Neither/nor" is doing the same thing. That's where the dissonance is. This would be the correct approach:

    The last thing he needs or wants is pie.
    (OR)
    He neither needs nor wants pie.
    You're going for the dramatic, so you'd choose the first, I think.
     
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  10. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Wait, there's pie ? hmmmmm pie
     
  11. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Contributor Contributor

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    There is now. Pecan with with a scoop of Blue Bell vanilla.
     

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