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Is the below sentence correct? This is the first time, I am seeing two neither in a sentence.

In the case of a constitutive relation, neither relatum precedes the other temporally, and neither can be present without the other.

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  • 1
    I've mainly heard neither...., nor.... . And neither..., neither.... is a new thing I saw here for the first time.
    – user33000
    Jun 16, 2016 at 9:20
  • For more info check this dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/…
    – user33000
    Jun 16, 2016 at 9:25
  • @Sina but there is no two 'neither' in a sentence.
    – ARYF
    Jun 16, 2016 at 9:34
  • I see. I would write the sentence this way:In the case of a constitutive relation, neither relatum precedes the other temporally, and neither one can be presented without the other.
    – user33000
    Jun 16, 2016 at 9:41

2 Answers 2

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It's easy to see why you're confused: as a learner you see these two neithers and suspect that this is not some sort of neither ... neither construction, like neither ... nor, which no one has taught you.

But there is no such construction. This is simply two independent clauses joined with and; both clauses happen to begin with the quantifier neither. Parse it this way:

In the case of a constitutive relation [two things are true]:

neither relatum precedes the other temporally
and
neither [relatum] can be present without the other.

Neither means "untrue of both of the two following things". In both clauses the two 'things' are the two relata, so the first clause means

Relatum A does not precede Relatum B temporally AND Relatum B does not precede Relatum A temporally.

In the second clause, neither is 'fused' with its head, relatum; this clause means

Relatum A cannot be present without Relatum B AND Relatum B cannot be present without Relatum A.

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  • Excellent!!! answer. I never thought in this way.
    – ARYF
    Jun 17, 2016 at 4:06
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Yes that makes sense. I wouldn't even suggest any alternatives, I believe this is the most natural construction and has the best tone for the content.

Edit: You could alternatively use the following, but neither is really just a negative version of either anyway.

In the case of a constitutive relation, neither relatum precedes the other temporally nor can either be present without the other.

"nor" would not be appropriate because we need to make clear that there are two alternatives and that both are needed.

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  • Are you sure with neither...., neither .... construction?
    – user33000
    Jun 16, 2016 at 9:27
  • Yes I am. It makes a strong point that both parts conditions are necessary. I would perhaps remove the last comma, but either way the sentence is perfectly correct grammatically. Jun 16, 2016 at 9:29
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    Could you provide us with a source to explain it more? And is this American English?
    – user33000
    Jun 16, 2016 at 9:31
  • I'm afraid I don't have a source for this beyond being a native speaker. This is Australian English, which is probably closer to UK English. In this link you can see some examples of using neither...nor. You'll notice that each part isn't a full idea. The sentence in this question however has full ideas following each neither. It's an abstract concept to get the grasp of, but if I heard either my construction or the original one I wouldn't think it was weird. Jun 16, 2016 at 9:34
  • @DanielWesleyPorteous Provide the citation that states about this rule.
    – ARYF
    Jun 16, 2016 at 9:35

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