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I do some exercises about using nor but all of them are statements. I was wondering whether it's ok to use it with questions as well?

Let's say there's this sentence (I came up with):

I can't sing well, nor can I play guitar.

Would it be ok to ask:

Why can't you sing well, nor can you play guitar?

or is there any catch? I'd say it sounds good.

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    You could say Why can you neither sing well nor play guitar? (and that's the only way I can rephrase your sentence to make it sound natural....)
    – Void
    Feb 22, 2021 at 19:50
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    to make it sound naturally offensive :) Feb 22, 2021 at 21:53
  • @AndrewTobilko haha true but it's just an example (one of many) that I created to practice the new (to me) sentence construction ;-]
    – squid
    Feb 23, 2021 at 9:06

1 Answer 1

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It doesn't sound right to this UK native.

"Nor" begs to be paired with "neither".

Colloquially these would be spoken as:

  • "I can't sing well, or play a guitar."

  • "Why can't you sing well, or play guitar?"

Despite the fact that or is technically incorrect, it is usual.

Here is a way you can say these things:

*"I can neither sing well nor play a guitar." *"Why can you neither sing well nor play guitar?"

(Note there is no comma needed, unless you prefer it. It's a matter of personal style.)

Or you could say:

*"I can't sing well, neither can I play a guitar."

However, when I try to translate this to the question, it sounds a bit wrong and stilted.

Summary: in colloquial English, "nor" has more or less been replaced by "or" unless you need to be emphatic and want to use "neither ... nor" in order to emphasise it for rhetorical effect.

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  • Oh, good to know. I've just googled for it and the construction without neither really seems to be somehow archaic. I wonder why they still teach it without mentioning its limited usage.
    – squid
    Feb 23, 2021 at 18:14

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