When to Use “Nor”: Clear Examples to Get It Right As a Writer

As a writer, one of the conjunctions that can elevate your writing is the correlative pair “neither” and “nor.”

How do you use ‘nor’ in a sentence?

Does it always have to go with the word ‘neither’?

“Nor” is a negative conjunction, meaning it tells the reader of the absence of something. Although “nor” is usually used in pairs with the word “neither,” there are a few other applications for it as well.

Nor’ functions as an adverb and a conjunction.

In this article, we will explain all the uses of nor.

When to Use Nor

These are the ways, the how to use nor;

Using Nor as a Conjunction

Nor is a conjunction that connects words, phrases, or clauses that have a similar rank. Used after neither to indicate that something is not possible, allowed, or true.


The food is neither tasty nor salty

Neither John nor Oke is tall.

The team was neither prepared nor motivated to win the game.

He can neither sing nor dance.

See also: When To Use A Dash In A Sentence – Dash Punctuation Guide

Verb Agreement

When it comes to tenses, using neither and nor to join two sentences, the verb will agree with the subject closest to it.

Neither the book nor the magazines belong to me.

Neither the trees nor the flowers need cutting.

Neither the teacher nor the students will come today.

To Introduce negative Alternatives

Nor is used after a negative statement to add another negative statement.

It is used when none of the options are desired.

For example;

She has neither the patience nor time to watch television.

I have neither the inclination nor time to go shopping.

He possesses neither the skills nor experience required to attract tourists.

The concert attracted neither tourists nor locals.

To initiate Multiple Negative Items in a List

Another way “nor” is used is when listing multiple items. Use “nor” before the introductory component ensures clarity and emphasizes on the negative.


He didn’t attend the interview nor give any explanation.

I neither received the package nor the email I was sent.

I didn’t like the taste of the meal, nor did he enjoy eating vegetables.

Match verb tense to noun tense

A singular noun requires a single verb, but a plural noun requires a plural one.


Neither Marie nor Moses is going to the movies

Neither cats nor dogs are allowed at the hotel.

If the tenses are mixed, use only the second noun to get the right tense

Sometimes, singular and plural verbs are used in the same sentence order. To determine the tense, look at the noun nearest to the verb, usually the one following “nor”.

Make your verb plural if the phrase is plural.

If the verb is singular, write it as singular.

If you’re in doubt, read the verb and second noun aloud to ensure that everything is proper.


Incorrect: Neither they nor he are interested.

Neither he nor they is interested.

Correct use: Neither he nor they are interested

Neither they nor he is interested

Use a comma when “nor” sets off an independent clause

A comma is not needed when “nor” ends a dependent clause.

Similarly, if “nor” is used to draw a relationship between two nouns, a comma is unnecessary. However, if it introduces an independent clause, you must place a comma before “nor.”

A dependent clause is a sentence fragment that makes sense only when the rest of the sentence is complete. Because an independent clause contains a subject and a verb, it can be separated as a sentence from the rest of the phrase.


Correct: No one knew the answer, nor did they make a guess.

Incorrect: No one knew the answer nor did they make a guess.

As an Adverb

Nor can be used as an adverb when used in a religious context and it means either then.


Neither God nor demon can undo the done.

What are the common mistakes made while using ‘nor’ in a sentence?

While using the conjunction “nor,” you need to be mindful of some of the common mistakes people make.

Using “nor” without using a correlation

You cannot use nor without a correlative pair like ‘neither…or’ or ‘not…nor.’ It helps to establish a negative construction that is appropriate for the sentence.


Incorrect use: He didn’t like the taste of vegetables, nor the meal.

Correct use: He neither liked the taste of the vegetables nor the meal.

Repeating neither in a correlative pair

Don’t make the mistake of repeating either in a sentence. It should be used only once.


Incorrect Use: Neither Chihi nor neither Adada attended the wedding.

Correct use: Neither Chihi nor Adada attended the wedding.

Inconsistent structure in the sentence

Ensure to maintain a parallel structure while using “nor” in a sentence. The sentence structure should be consistent without repeating the subject and auxiliary verb.


Incorrect use: The shop has neither eggs nor it has greens.

Correct use: The shop has neither eggs nor greens.

Inconsistent verb form

Avoid inconsistent verbs with a correlative pair. The verb should be consistent.


Incorrect use: We are neither traveling nor did we plan to travel.

Correct use: We are neither traveling nor planning to travel.

From the example, we can see that the verb form, which is a present participle “coming,” remains consistent in the correlative pair.


For communication to be clear and efficient, it is essential to understand the use of nor in a phrase. When you use it as a coordinating conjunction, make sure that the verbs are in proper agreement, and introduce negative alternatives or multiple items in a list.

Your aim while using nor is to avoid errors and have crisp grammar. Being proficient with “nor” will help you write well-organized sentences that effectively express the ideas you want to get across.

FAQs on When to use nor

Which sentence is correct?

A) I want neither persimmons nor kiwis.
B) I want neither persimmons or kiwis.
[Answer: A]

Which sentence is correct?

A) Neither the trees nor the flowers inspires me.
B) Neither the trees nor the flower inspire me.

Which sentence has parallel structure?

A) Aark neither wondered about the outcome nor cared.
B) Aark wondered neither about the outcome nor cared.
[Answer: A]

How do you use neither/nor?

Neither and nor provide a way to connect two negative ideas in a sentence. They’re often used to express the idea that neither of the two options is correct or applicable.

When should you use neither/nor?

You should use neither and nor when you want to express the idea that neither of the two options is correct or applicable. Neither nor should only be used when both options are negative.