I would like to ask whether the following constructions are correct:

1. He refused to listen to me. Nor is he ready to leave.


2. We missed the plane. Nor did we catch the train.

From this discussion I understand that we can use 'nor' to negate a sentence after another negative sentence, as in an example there:

I wasn't going to play dead. Nor was I going to hide.

Note however that formally the first sentences are not negative in examples 1 and 2, so I am not one hundred percent sure about them.

2 Answers 2


This is actually a very good question.

The two examples you gave are not negative (i.e., they do not contain negated verbs), and nor is generally limited to following negative sentence, that is true.

However, the ‘negative’ part of that is sometimes more semantic than syntactic/grammatical. If the meaning of the preceding sentence has an element of being negative in nature about it, then you can use nor, as long as it makes sense semantically to do so.

In both your example sentences, there is an element of negativity: refusing is a ‘negative action’ semantically (the negative of assenting), and missing a train can just about be considered one as well.

Your second example to me sounds perfectly fine, and it is something that many native speakers would say without a second thought. Your first example sounds a little bit odd, but I suspect that's due to the lack of parallelism between the two sentences in it: what does leaving have to do with listening to you? If you had chosen a more parallel example, there would be no problem; for example:

He refused to talk to me; nor would he listen to what I had to say.


Nor only makes sense if you can use or in the first place. The two things in both your examples are not mutually exclusive which is when or / nor needs to be used.

He refused to listen to me. Nor is he ready to leave.

He did listen to me or he's ready to leave - Doesn't work.

Really the conjunction and is better, but there is no negative version of and in English (unless you work in electronics...)

A neither construction will allow you to use nor:

He neither listened to me nor was ready to leave.

  • 3
    I don't understand quite what you mean by “nor only makes sense if you can use or in the first place”. I can't think of any context to use nor where or would also work. They are kind of mutually exclusive. Nor is simply not… either in this usage, which seems rather orthogonal to or. Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 4:22

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