Improper Use of 'Nor' – Either / Or Vs. Neither / Nor

I’ve been seeing recently some improper use of the word ‘nor’. I know that a lot of you have been informed that either / or is the ‘positive’ and neither / nor is the ‘negative’. Because of this, I’m seeing people use ‘nor’ improperly when it should be ‘or’ just because the sentence contains a ‘negative word’.

Negative words include: can’t, not, cannot, won’t, will not, don’t, do not, no, etc.

JUST because a sentence contains these negative words doesn’t mean you use ‘nor’. You ONLY use ‘nor’ when it is being used with the word ‘neither’ or ‘neither implied’.

Let me explain how ‘nor’ is being used wrongly first, then I’ll explain the right way.

WRONG:

“I don’t think we should go to the store, nor should we go to the lake.”

RIGHT:

“I don’t think we should go to the store, neither should we go to the lake.”

You see, it’s important to understand that ‘nor’ is the ‘or’ counterpart, not the ‘either’ counterpart. If you can’t replace the ‘nor’ with ‘or’ and have it still make sense, then you can’t use ‘nor’.

Example: I don’t think we should go to the store, or should we go to the lake.

See how that changes the meaning?

Negative: I don’t think we should go to the store, neither should we go to the lake.

Positive: Either we should go to the store, or we should go to the lake.

Hummm…

Negative revision: Neither should we go to the store, nor should we go to the lake.

I mean, really, who talks like that?

Now, let’s look at listing when using negative and or.

WRONG:

I don’t want that truck nor the car.

RIGHT:

I don’t want that truck or the car.

JUST because it’s negative (don’t) doesn’t mean you use ‘nor’. What don’t you want? That truck or car.

Now, how could you write to use nor?

Negative Example: I want neither the truck nor the car.

Got it?

I know, it’s probably confusing you, but the thing to watch for is this: if you aren’t using ‘neither’ in the sentence, don’t use ‘nor’. If you feel you should use ‘nor’, check yourself and see if perhaps you truly mean ‘neither’ instead.

Example: I don’t want chocolate and neither do I want vanilla.

Make sense?

I hope so… I’ve only recently started seeing this, so I’m not sure why I’ve either not noticed it or somehow there’s a sudden rash of contagious ‘nors’ running around the internet.

Either – or

Neither – nor

Negative doesn’t mean nor, unless neither is included!

ARgh. Now I’m confusing even myself.

Did you get it? Please, tell me you got it!

Love and stuff,
Michy