General Writing and Grammar Help/Paired Conjunctions


Dear Dr Johnson,
I'd like to know the word order using NEITHER ... Nor and NOT ONLY ... BUT ALSO in case we put NEITHER and NOT ONLY at the beginning of a sentence. Which of the following pairs are correct:
1. a) Neither do you come to my home, nor do you call me.
     Neither is he very mean, nor is he very generous.

2. b) Neither do you come to my home, nor you call me.
     Neither is he very mean, nor he is very generous.

3. a) Not only is that book easy, but also it is interesting.
     Not only do we need a new office, but also we need some furniture.
4. b) Not only is that book easy, but also it is interesting.
     Not only we need a new office, but also we need some furniture.

I would be grateful if you can help me.
B. Victory

Hello Bob - and thanks for the question.

1. You would not begin a statement with 'Neither' in normal English.

2. Appears to  be the same as 1.

3. This should be as follows:

Not only is that book easy, but it is also interesting.
Not only do we need a new office, but we also need some furniture.

4. Appears to be the same as 3.

Hope that helps

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Roy Johnson


I can answer questions on English language, grammar, writing skills, and study skills. I am particularly experienced in the writing skills required for academic essays, term papers, reports, dissertations, and post-graduate theses.


I have forty years experience as a tutor and as the author of books on writing and study skills. For thirty years I was a tutor for the Workers' Educational Association, which specialises in courses for adult students and preparing mature students for university. I was also a tutor for the Open University between 1975 and 2010. During that time I have also written a number of books on writing and study skills. In the last ten years or more I have specialised in creating computer-aided learning materials and online learning courses.

"Making the Grade" (Manchester University Press) 1990 "Studying Fiction" (Manchester University Press) 1991 "Marking Essays" (Clifton Press) 1993 "Revision and Examinations" (Clifton Press) 1993 "Writing Essays" (Clifton Ress) 1996 "Study Skills" (Clifton Press) 1996 "Electronic Writing" (Clifton Press) 1996 "Improve your Writing Skills" (Clifton Press) 2010 "Writing Essays 3.0" (Clifton Press) 2008 [computer program] "English Language 3.0" (Clifton Press) 2008 [computer program] "Study Skills 2.0" (Clifton Press) 2008 [computer program]

My first degree was in mechanical engineering (HNC). I then switched to literary studies and philosophy. My second degree was a BA in English and American Literature (from Manchester University - UK). I also have an MA in Comparative Literary Studies, and my doctoral thesis (PhD) was in the relationship between literature and politics.

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