As shown above, he misses someone mysterious, whoever that is, which confirms to us that the feeling is not happiness nor depression, it is emptiness.

It is a sentence from an essay my friend wrote, and I don't think putting "it is emptiness" without any coordinating conjunction would be seriously wrong, but he was saying things like independent clause and dependent clause so I could not quite get him. The one I suggested him was this:

As shown above, he misses someone mysterious, whoever that is, which confirms to us that the feeling not happiness nor depression is actually emptiness.

But he said it is not very grammatical. Which one of these sentences is correct then?

  • 2
    The original sentence is much better. – Catija Aug 19 '15 at 23:32
  • 1
    I would write ". . . someone mysterious, whoever it may be; which confirms to us that what he feels is neither happiness nor depression but emptiness." But I don't see that this can be inferred from his missing someone mysterious; I suspect that either mysterious or emptiness is not quite the word you want--perhaps both words. – StoneyB on hiatus Aug 20 '15 at 0:53

Your friend's sentence is perfectly grammatical, although not entirely intelligible—it's sort of mysterious itself!

This sort of construction without a conjunction is permissible, licensed by the contrasting of negative and positive: "It is not A, it is B."

Your own sentence, however, is not English.

  • In the first place, not A nor B is not an idiomatic construction: you need either neither A nor B or not A or B.

  • In the second place, there is nothing to link not happiness or depression with the feeling: you need the feeling is not happiness or depression.

  • Finally, having built the first part of this section with is you must either start a new clause with it is, or conjoin emptiness with not happiness or depression so it shares a subject and verb with that conjunct term; the proper conjunction would be but.

... the feeling is not happiness or depression, it is emptiness.
... the feeling is not happiness or depression but emptiness.

  • I know I'm necroing this - I came across the title in the sidebar and thought to close it, but it turned out to be an interesting question. If we fixed the neither/nor problem, couldn't we grammatically say "the feeling, neither happiness nor depression, is actually emptiness." ? – ColleenV Apr 12 '16 at 17:12

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