Neither he nor I

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Bartold, Mar 3, 2006.

  1. Bartold

    Bartold Banned

    Owczarnia
    Polska - Polish
    There are some threads on "neither... nor..." but none of them explains my problem.

    Which expressions are correct? Should there be "I" or "me"?

    a) Neither Peter nor Tom is here.
    b) Neither he nor she is here..
    c) Neither me nor you are here.
    d) Neither Ann nor I can speak Chinese.
    e) Neither Ann nor I are old.
    f) Neither Ann nor I am old.

    g) You and I like sport.
    h) I and you like sport.
    i) You and me like sport.
    j) Me and you like sport.
     
  2. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    American English, Palestinian Arabic
    The above indicate what is technically, grammatically correct (unmarked sentences are correct). Subjects should be in the nominative case (hence "I") and in a "neither...nor" construction the verb agrees with the nearer subject.

    That said, f to me sounds decidedly odd; most would prefer e in colloquial speech, grammatically correct or not. H also sounds peculiar; "I" is not usually the first part of a compound subject.

    One final comment: you can like either "sports" or "a sport" but not just "sport."
     
  3. la reine victoria Senior Member

    Hello Bartold,

    I'll try to explain the incorrect sentences.

    c) You can't use 'me' as the personal pronoun 'I'. For example, you wouldn't say 'Me like you'.

    e) Neither Ann nor I is old. The subject is in the singular, (neither one of us is old) so the verb must stay in the singular. You can say, 'Neither Ann nor the others are old' because the subject is in the plural.

    f) Neither Ann nor I is old. Your example is saying 'Neither Ann am old nor I am old. I am, Ann is (third person singular).

    h) When speaking of yourself and another person the other person is always placed before I.

    i) You and I like sport. Me cannot be the personal pronoun (see correction c).

    j) You and I like sport. See corrections c), f) and h).


    LRV
     
  4. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    American English, Palestinian Arabic
    e) I've always learned that the verb agrees with the nearer subject; the nearer subject here is "I" so "am" would be appropriate. As I said above, it sounds very awkward but I don't know if I'd consider it "incorrect."

    h) This is the general tendency, but I wouldn't consider it a universal rule. Placing the "I" first may give a poetic effect: "I and my lover took a walk on the beach." Ok, so maybe that's not the most "poetic" sentence in the world, but you get the idea. :)
     
  5. la reine victoria Senior Member


    In BE, sport is a plural noun embracing all types of sport. We say 'I love sport' or 'I hate sport'. A school child might grumble in cold weather, 'Oh no! We've got sport today.'


    LRV
     
  6. roniy Senior Member

    Brooklyn NY
    ISRAEL: Fluent Hebrew ( Speak Russian, Learning English)
    Shouldn't it be
    " Neither is Ann nor am I old"
    ??
     
  7. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    American English, Palestinian Arabic
    Ah! Thanks for the info; I did not know that. :)

    No. That is an incorrect sentence.
     
  8. Bartold

    Bartold Banned

    Owczarnia
    Polska - Polish
    Thanks very much!!! It's clear for me now ;)
     
  9. roniy Senior Member

    Brooklyn NY
    ISRAEL: Fluent Hebrew ( Speak Russian, Learning English)
    But if you have a negetive word at the begining of a santence it becomes an inverted sentence like here :

    "Not only did I ...."
    Thanks.

    If it is not OK to ask here just tell me and I will open another discussion.
     
  10. river Senior Member

    U.S. English
    It sounds so stupid, but it should be "Neither Ann nor I am old" or "Neither I nor Ann is old," or forget the "neither-nor" construction and say that "Ann and I are not old."
     
  11. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    The BE plural form, sport, is used particularly by those whose concept of sport is very broad, but for whom active participation involves lifting the glass, or occasionally going to the match.
    Lovers of sport get their sport on TV.
    Lovers of sports never have time to watch TV.

    In relation to the vexed question of verb form after a neither nor pair that don't match in either or both of person and number, Fowler, in 1926, had this to say:
    This makes life rather difficult for learners - native and non-native - because there is no rule that can be applied to good effect in all cases (alternatively, it is river's rule:) ).
     
  12. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    American English, Palestinian Arabic
    You are right. It's the fact that you both use "neither is Ann" and "nor am I" to govern "old" that makes the sentence awkward.

    Some alternative constructions that employ inversion:

    I am not old. Neither is Ann.

    Ann is not old. Neither am I.

    John is not old, neither is Ann, and neither am I.

    You could also say something like

    Neither is Ann old, nor am I young.

    which means the same as

    Ann is not old, and I am not young.
     
  13. maxiogee Senior Member

    imithe
    That is only an AE concept - personally I loathe all sport, and the only people over here who would moan at me are medical personnel. Grammarians would applaud the usage if not the sentiment. ;)
     
  14. Prower Senior Member

    Russian
    However, in the "Neither me nor you are here. :cross: " this rule doesn't work apparently.

    As far as I understand it should be

    Neither me nor
    you is here.

    Right?
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2012
  15. EStjarn

    EStjarn Senior Member

    Spanish
    Neither me nor you is here sounds decidedly strange. The error in the original sentence is not the fact that you is followed by are, but the use of the object pronoun me instead of the subject pronoun I.
     
  16. Prower Senior Member

    Russian
    However,

    Neither he nor I is - is acceptable, although the most correct option is I am

    What about this one? Neither I nor you is/are (is "is" acceptable all in all?

    Neither I nor
    you is
     
  17. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    If you examine what is being said, you will see that it is not correct because is does not agree with I or you.

    E.g. Neither he nor I am happy = Neither is he happy nor am I happy (note inversion)

    When the speaker says, "Neither he nor I am happy" The speaker misses out the is happy: Neither [is] he [happy] nor I am happy.

    Neither is he going to town nor am I going to town. = Neither he nor I am going to town.

    I suggest that rather than worry about the "Neither he nor I verb" construction, you say/write it out in full: "Neither verb he nor verb I..." eventually, it will become clear. :thumbsup:
     
  18. Prower Senior Member

    Russian
    That's right. It is also not correct to say "This is him", nevertheless, people say it and don't say "This is he", even though the latter one is correct.

    I understand that is doesn't agree with you and I, however, we can hear neither he nor I is more often than neither he nor I am

    This is why I was wondering if Neither he nor you is is more often used in colloquial english.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2012
  19. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    I suspect that what would come most naturally to those BE speakers who allowed themselves to get into such a tangle would be

    Neither he nor I are ....

    Intriguingly what sounds most natural is inappropriate to both subject pronouns.
     
  20. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    As I think about it, there are two distinct constructions here:

    John, and (for that matter) his sister, is happy. - John is the subject; his sister is an aside. is agrees with John
    John and his sister are happy. - the subject is John and his sister. are agrees with "John and his sister".

    The questions are then,
    "Is it,
    (i) 'Neither he, nor I, is happy.' or
    (ii) 'Neither he nor I are happy.'? or
    (iii) 'Neither he is happy nor I am happy.'?"

    I would say that
    (i) is not possible, as both he and I are linked by happy and it is both his and my unhappiness that is being spoken of as equal subjects.
    (ii) is not possible, as there are, in fact, two separate sentences, each requiring its own verb form but when the first is omitted, the second does not alter.
    (iii) is correct.

    What we hear and say is/are (;)) not always accurate, and rules fall apart on contact with the enemy.
     
  21. Beryl from Northallerton Moderator

    British English

    So why does the verb agree with 'I'?
     
  22. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    My vote goes to Fowler, quoted by panj in post 11 but worth repeating:
    As regards 'what instinct dictates' in Prower's current context, then mine, like TT's, dictates "are":
    Neither he nor I are ....
    Neither you nor I are ....
    :)
     
  23. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    because, as I said, the is happy of he is happy has been omitted - left to the listener/reader to insert.
     
  24. Beryl from Northallerton Moderator

    British English
    So would you similarly advocate, say, 'Neither you nor he is happy'?
     
  25. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    On the basis of Loob's quotation from Fowler,
    Yes.
     

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