Commas With 'Neither' and 'Neither/nor'

Since "neither" (or the pair "neither/nor") connects two ideas, subjects, or objects together, you should not use a comma to separate them.

Since "neither" (or the pair "neither/nor") connects two ideas, subjects, or objects together, you should not use a comma to separate them.

Neither Rebecca nor Olivia attended the meeting.

Neither Rebecca, nor Olivia attended the meeting.

There are particular sentence constructions, however, where you may need to add a comma before "neither". For example, when starting a sentence with a dependent clause, add a comma after it.

Although Alex liked both T-shirts, neither of them fit properly.

Although Alex liked both T-shirts neither of them fit properly.

1. A Comma Is Generally Necessary Before 'Neither'

"Neither" can be a conjunction, a determiner, or a pronoun.

1.1 Neither/Nor (correlative conjunction)

As a correlative conjunction, the pair neither/nor links two negative statements of equal weight. This sentence structure is quite formal.

We do not typically place a comma before or after a correlative conjunction, such as neither/nor.

Neither Robert nor Olivia understood what was happening.

More examples

  • Is Mary Swiss or Austrian? Actually, she is neither Swiss nor Austrian.
  • Do you eat meat or eggs? Sorry, I eat neither meat nor eggs.
  • I can buy neither the yellow car nor the white car.

1.2 Neither + singular noun (determiner)

As a determiner, we use "neither" before a singular noun to mean "not either one". We must not place a comma after "neither" in this situation.

Can we have our next lesson on the 11th or the 12th? Neither day is convenient.

More examples

  • Neither engineer could solve the problem.
  • I think that neither country has met all targets.
  • Neither player can activate monster effects.

1.3 Pronoun

When functioning as a pronoun, we do not commonly place a comma before or after "neither".

Do you prefer to play football or basketball? Neither.

More examples

  • Will you go by bus or by train? Neither.
  • Which dress do you want? Neither!
  • Are you going to France or Italy? Neither.

1.4 Neither of

We frequently use the following structures in English:

  • "Neither of + plural pronoun"
  • "Neither of + determiner + plural noun"

We must not place a comma after "neither" when using the combination "neither of + them/theirs/us/ours".

Has either of them called? Neither of them has called.

Follow the same strategy when using a determiner (my, your, his, the, these, those, etc.) followed by a plural noun after "neither".

Neither of these arguments are convincing.

More examples

  • Neither of them is my friend.
  • Neither of your pictures looks good.
  • You can wear neither of my shirts.

1.5 Agreeing with a negative statement

Similarly, we do not generally use a comma before or after "neither" to agree with a negative statement.

I didn't sleep all night. Neither did I.

More examples

  • I can't speak Thai. Neither can I.
  • I am not tall. Neither is she.
  • My husband cannot attend the meeting. Neither can Robert.

2. Exceptions

There are particular situations where commas may be required. For example, when starting a sentence with a dependent clause, add a comma after it:

Although Mary liked both skirts, neither of them fit properly.

Although Mary liked both skirts neither of them fit properly.

We also add a comma after an introductory phrase or word.

In my opinion, neither player should be kept out too long.

Actually, neither of them are nice.

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