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General Writing and Grammar Help/Follow up question about "I don't like basketball and/or/nor football.

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Dear Ted,
I have a follow up question to one that I asked you yesterday. First I'll post yesterday's question and your answer.:
I'm not sure if I should use the word "and", "or", or "nor" in the following
sentences, or if all three words are grammatically correct.
1. I don't like basketball and football.
2. I don't like basketball or football.

*** The first two sentences are correct.  They mean the same thing.

3. I don't like basketball nor football.

*** Some people find #3 to be correct, but others would prefer the more formal construction:
I like NEITHER basketball NOR football.  The "neither . . . nor" linking is called a "correlative conjunction."  These conjunctions always appear in "pairs," which means that, if you have NEITHER, you must have a NOR.

*** Your #3 is not a good sentence, because you use two NEGATIVE elements that are NOT correlative:  don't [do NOT] and NOR.

Your sentence #2 also requires correlation, in order to be grammatically correct.  However, because of common usage, EITHER is not required.  

CASUAL -- I don't like basketball or football.
FORMAL --I don't like EITHER basketball OR football.

Sentence #1 is, by far, the best sentence.  In it you have stated, quite clearly, that there are two sports that you do not like.

Ted
Now, for my follow up question.
I thought you can only use the word "and" for the positive, i.e. "I like basketball and football." or "I like Chinese food and French food." I thought that for the negative you must use the word "or" or "nor", i.e. "I don't like basketball or football." or " I don't like Chinese food nor French food." After you gave me your earlier answer, I realize I was wrong. I just wonder if many people have my old thinking about this or if perhaps in the past this was common usage of the expressions but it changed.
Thanks,
Glen

Answer
Dear Glen:

Now, for my follow up question.
I thought you can only use the word "and" for the positive, i.e. "I like
basketball and football." or "I like Chinese food and French food." I thought
that for the negative you must use the word "or" or "nor", i.e. "I don't like
basketball or football." or " I don't like Chinese food nor French food." After
you gave me your earlier answer, I realize I was wrong. I just wonder if many
people have my old thinking about this or if perhaps in the past this was common
usage of the expressions but it changed.

*** Glen, do not count yourself as "wrong" so fast.  Remember that I have referred to both "casual" and "formal" use.  There are many examples I could give you that I would have considered WRONG, years ago. Today, they are common place.  

Languages change, and, in my opinion, that change is not always for the better.  I doubt that many students of today would know anything about "correlative conjunctions."

Here's an example:

John to Jim:  Name three sports that you do NOT like.
Jim to John:  Basketball, football, and baseball.

John to Joe:  Name two sports that you do NOT like.
Joe to Jim:  Basketball and football.

The use of the negative in another part of the sentences changes everything.  If, for instance, Joe's answer to Jim is "I do NOT like basketball AND football," his answer would be acceptable.  But, so would this answer:  "I do NOT like basketball OR football."

Our language has changed to that in our everyday usage what was once improper is now acceptable.

I think that, in the very near future, we will have severe communication problems with our language.  E-mails and text-messaging are extremely NEGATIVE INFLUENCES on the English language.  I wonder what is happening in China.   

The abbreviations and "symbols" used on the internet are bound to work their way into our proper spoken and written language.

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

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B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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