Rule 1: You should always use a comma before “neither…nor” when it follows an introductory clause.
- Correct: When the day finally arrived, neither Harry nor Pauline was ready to get married.
- Incorrect: When the day finally arrived neither Harry nor Pauline was ready to get married.
Rule 2: You do not need to put a comma with “neither…nor” unless it appears after an introductory element.
- Correct: Neither Jenny nor her friends wanted to attend the event.
- Incorrect: Neither Jenny, nor her friends wanted to attend the event.
Keep reading the rest of the article to learn more about how you can use commas correctly with the term “neither…nor.”
When to Use a Comma With “Neither…Nor”
There is only one occasion when you need to use a comma with “neither…nor.” To find out more about it, see Rule 1.
Rule 1: Use a comma after “neither…nor” when it comes immediately after an introductory phrase.
The rule applies more to the preceding term rather than specifically to “neither…nor.”
Nonetheless, you should put a comma before “neither” on these occasions.
- After they had finished listening to the instructions, neither he nor she had any idea what the task was.
- When the day came to a close, neither the staff nor the customers were satisfied.
When to Avoid a Comma With “Neither…Nor”
You will mostly not need a comma with “neither…nor”. Rule 2 explains why this is the case.
Rule 2: You shouldn’t use a comma with “neither…nor” when it does not come after an introductory phrase.
In general, you do not need a comma with “neither…nor” because it is a correlative conjunction, which do not require commas.
This rule applies regardless of whether you are connecting nouns, adjectives, or verbs.
- He had neither a job nor money. (nouns)
- He is neither Mexican nor American; he is Canadian. (adjectives)
- He neither went to university nor did he get a job. (verbs)
You need a comma before “neither…nor” when it comes straight after an introductory element. E.g., “That day, neither David nor Eric wanted to go to work.” In contrast, on all other occasions, you do not need a comma. E.g., “Neither Monday nor Tuesday was convenient for him to meet.”