Friday, May 13, 2016

Same Difference: Using "So", "Neither", and "Nor" in the English Language

No matter what conversation you're having, there are always things mentioned that are the same or different for you. Think about the following conversation:

A: "I play the piano."
B: "So do I."

Then imagine this conversation:

A: "I don't play the piano."
B: "Neither/Nor do I."

In the first conversation, both person A and person B play the piano. In the second, nobody plays the piano. Person B is telling person A that the first sentence is also true for them. So how do you know how to say things are the same for you in English?

First, you need to know if the sentence is positive or negative. If A uses a positive sentence, B uses the word "so". If A uses a negative sentence, B uses the word "neither" or "nor".

Second, you need to know which auxiliary is being used in the sentence. Most tenses and verbs use a variation of "do" as their auxiliary, so you will hear this a lot.

However, don't forget the other auxiliaries and modals we have in the English language! If you use the modal "can", the conversations from before will be a little different:

A: "I can play the piano."
B: "So can I."

And the negative version:

A: "I can't play the piano."
B: "Neither/Nor can I."

In our examples so far, A and B have just been talking about themselves. However, you can also change the subjects of these sentences. Now look at these examples:

A: "I play the piano."
B: "So can John."

And in the negative:

A: "I don't play the piano."
B: "Neither/Nor does John."

In this case, remember that you always need to alter your verb to correctly conjugate with the subject you are using.

Finally, here are our three golden rules summed up:

Positive = "So" + auxiliary + subject.
Negative = "Neither"/"Nor" + auxiliary + subject.

We hope you've found this look at "so", "neither", and "nor" useful. Next time you find something in common with someone, you'll be able to express yourself elegantly in English.