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I have trouble with the use of "neither" in some sentences. Example:

  1. “You must not drink sodas, neither eat fast food.”
  2. “You must not drink sodas neither eat fast food.”

(I don't know if I have to include a comma)

The thing is that I want to use “neither” alone in this kind of cases, but some apps, like Grammarly, change it to “or” like:

“You must not drink sodas or eat fast food.”

I don't understand why this is correct. Now I see that using neither here is incorrect, but I don't really get why.

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    hmmm, I'd put 'nor' instead of 'or'. Very technically, when using 'or' you could eat fast food AND drink sodas.
    – mcalex
    May 17 at 9:09
  • "Neither" is the opposite of "either." Would you write, "You can drink sodas either eat fast food"?
    – David K
    May 17 at 16:57
  • @mcalex so using “nor” in this sentence is grammatically correct?
    – Mary
    Jun 13 at 5:39
  • @DavidK, No, I wouldn't write it 😅, now I get why neither is no correct here.
    – Mary
    Jun 13 at 6:33
  • @Mary yes. If you replace 'not' with 'neither', it will make 'nor' more obviously correct. - "You must neither drink sodas nor eat fast food." as Old Brixtonian says in their answer (and is probably the variant I'd use).
    – mcalex
    Jun 14 at 6:06

3 Answers 3

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The word neither is used in a few different ways. Usually it's used before nouns like a determiner, for example

"You must eat or drink neither fast food nor soda."

Note that not doesn't appear here - neither is like a way of negating the noun (neither fast food nor soda) and not the verb (you must not...)

You're trying to use it like a conjunction or maybe an adverb, in which case the correct phrasing would be

"You must not eat fast food, neither must you drink soda."

References:

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  • For clarity, are you saying OP has to switch the two items, or will your solution (inserting 'must you') work with the sodas first and food second?
    – mcalex
    May 17 at 9:06
  • I would personally put "neither" before the verbs (with appropriate corresponding changes), or use "consume" instead of "eat or drink". "A or B neither C nor D" sounds a bit strange.
    – NotThatGuy
    May 17 at 9:11
  • "nor" seems more idiomatic to me than "neither" in your last example, although I believe both are acceptable.
    – Barmar
    May 17 at 14:04
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You could say, with at least a comma in the middle,

You must not drink sodas. Neither must you eat fast food.

Or, in one unbroken but slightly old-fashioned sentence:

"You must neither drink sodas nor eat fast food.”

I don't know why you want to use "neither". Most people would probably do as Grammarly suggested, but with "mustn't" instead of "must not", as NotThatGuy suggests.

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    I don't know why you call "neither X nor Y" "old-fashioned". I hear that structure quite often. I certainly hear that far more often than "... not X. Neither Y". If anything, I'd consider the latter to be "old-fashioned" and quite formal. But in common speech many people will probably just say "You mustn't drink sodas nor eat fast food" (regardless of whether or not this is strictly grammatical).
    – NotThatGuy
    May 17 at 9:22
  • I too hear "It's neither X nor Y." But "You must neither X nor Y" sounds pleasantly dated to me! I've seldom heard "You mustn't X nor..." Grammarly's "You mustn't X or..." - with your "mustn't" - is probably the most used in the UK. May 17 at 10:46
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I don't understand why [the use of "or"] is correct.

It's correct (and natural to me, as a native BrE speaker) to use "or" here because you're indicating alternatives. There are two actions mentioned, and someone could do either of them; you're indicating that it would be wrong to do either of the alternatives.

If you were to use and here by contrast, it would indicate a single compound action:

"You must not drink sodas and eat fast food"

This says you must not do both, at the same time - but it's presumably OK to drink sodas so long as you're not also eating fast food, or vice versa.

Using or instead makes it clear that each individual part is forbidden; if you do one of them or the other one, you've broken the rule.

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  • Without additional punctuation "You must not drink sodas and eat fast food" is ambiguous. Is it to mean "You must, not drink sodas, and eat fast food" or "You must not, drink sodas and east fast food" ? You are quite right that the use of 'or' resolves the problem.
    – charmer
    May 17 at 13:40

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