Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Also and Nor

"Also" is a very useful adverb meaning "in addition to", and is often used as a transition into a second sentence which adds a further detail:

We ate bacon and eggs for breakfast this morning. We also had coffee.

But it can't be used as a transition between negative sentences. For that, we have the simple and emphatic conjunction "nor".

The Times Colonist makes this mistake in today's edition:

Ultimately, of course, we don't want to pay any more taxes than we need to, and we don't want to see the government run a string of deficits. We also don't want to lose what the government does for us.

This should read:

Ultimately, of course, we don't want to pay any more taxes than we need to, and we don't want to see the government run a string of deficits. Nor do we want to lose what the government does for us.


Update, March 3, 2012


Even the President of the United States makes this error.

I think that the Israel government recognises that, as President of the United States, I don't bluff. I also don't, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are (from the Globe).


This is a construction where repetition (of "don't") does not make the statement more emphatic. Consider the impact of the short, sharp "nor":

I think that the Israel government recognises that, as President of the United States, I don't bluff. Nor do I, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are.


Shakespeare knew best how to use this conjunction.

But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest,
Nor shall death brag thou wand'rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest.

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