Page:A Desk-Book of Errors in English.djvu/162

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A Desk-Book of

'neither he nor I were (correctly was) there.'" Neither, that is, not either, means not the one nor the other of two. "Through diligence he attained a position which he neither aspired to nor coveted"—the proper correlative to use here is nor.

nerve: A slang term sometimes used as a substitute for "impudence," "over-assurance" or "independence," any one of which is preferable.

never, not: While literary authority sanctions the use of never for not in cases where a lapse of considerable time is thought of, as, "I shall be there—never fear" (for do not fear now, or at any time in the interim, that I shall disappoint you), it does not justify its use in a sentence where the time referred to is momentary or short. The emphatic use of this adverb in the sense of not a single one, not at all, is perfectly good, as instanced by Coleridge—"And never a saint took pity on my soul in agony." But the usage will not sanction an extension to things which, from their very nature, could take place—as, say, death—but once. Thus, do not say "Robert Fulton never invented the steamboat"; say, rather, "Robert Fulton did not invent the steamboat." "Paul Jones was never born in the United States" is incorrect. Say ". . . was not born in the United States." Do not say "I met him to-day but he never mentioned the subject." Say, rather ". . . but he did not mention the subject."