Put an end to sloppy copy: part 2 – or, nor or neither?

Or, nor or neither?

Using the word ‘or’ is a no-brainer for most people. As a way of offering two alternative things, we use the word ‘or’ in everyday speech without thinking or worrying about it.

  • I can be happy or sad, depending on the weather
  • Would you prefer to ride the elephant or the rhino?

What about the word ‘nor’? It’s not quite so straight forward…  ‘Nor’ often sounds a bit formal, a bit awkward and perhaps a bit old fashioned, so many of us abandon it altogether, but when things turn negative ‘nor’ should step in:

  • I feel neither happy nor sad when it rains
  • Neither elephants nor rhinos are found in this zoo

Confused? Let’s get practical. Take a look at these sentences:

Which one is correct?

A: I’m not bored or tiered, I just can’t be bothered
B: I’m not bored nor tiered, I just can’t be bothered

Answer: B

A: There aren’t any antelopes nor any dogs here
B: There aren’t any antelopes or any dogs here

Answer: A

Hope that helps. Continuing the mission to stamp out sloppy copy, look out for my next blog on ‘IS or ARE.’

lucy@lucygrewcock.comLooking for a Brighton copywriter with a  grip on grammar? I’m here