Can I use "nek" in the way that neither is used in the following English contexts:

"Do you want a chocolate or a strawberry milkshake?" "Neither. I want vanilla."


"I could not stop him from talking. Neither could I avoid hearing what he said."

In other words, can I use "nek" on its own in a sentence, without an accompanying "nek" in another clause?

2 Answers 2


Your second example is a paragon for the single nek. Nek means kaj ankaŭ ne.

Mi ne povis deteni lin de parolado. Mi nek povis eviti aŭdi kion li diris.

For your other example one would say

Ĉu vi volas ĉokoladon aŭ fragon? Nek, nek. Mi volas vanilon.

according to PMEG.

But I'm pretty sure that a single nek is also perfectly understandable.

Ĉu vi volas ĉokoladon aŭ fragon? Nek. Mi volas vanilon.

I don't know what milkshake is in Esperanto.

  • 1
    A single nek is not understandable. As for "nek, nek" I hear people use more often either "neniun" or "neniun el la du". Jan 28, 2020 at 13:11
  • I would say “mi nek povis eviti aŭdi…”. Otherwise if you say “nek mi” it sounds like you are saying “ne nur vi ne povis deteni lin, ankaŭ mi ne povis”, but that wouldn’t make sense for the example.
    – Neil Roberts
    Jan 28, 2020 at 14:58
  • @NeilRoberts Isn't that also true for the english version? I think that's a matter of taste. I'm not even sure if ne nur vi ... really wouldn't make sense in the example (but I'm not native En). Depends on emphasis, doesn't it? If ne nur vi ne povis deteni lin, ankaŭ mi ne povis doesn't make sense, context clarifies the meaning and I would prefer to start with nek in the sense of nek: ....
    – Olafant
    Jan 29, 2020 at 0:02
  • @EduardoTrápani So if someone would answer the question Ĉu vi volas ĉokoladon aŭ fragon? with Nek. Mi volas vanilon. you wouldn't understand that nek is just short for nek, nek? That's hard to believe.
    – Olafant
    Jan 29, 2020 at 5:53
  • 1
    @Olafant, a single "nek" could be understandable (probably heard as a simple incorrect "ne"). I offer you a parallel situation: if I wanted both chocolate and strawberry, the answer would be, colloquially, "kaj kaj". A single "kaj" would not make any sense, the original is "kaj A kaj B", so you abbreviate it to just "kaj kaj". If the original is "nek A nek B", using just a single "nek" to abbreviate it is really weird for me. "nek nek" would be ok. But that's just my opinion based on hearing native speakers a lot. Jan 29, 2020 at 21:06
Can you use “nek” in other ways than “nek… nek…” (neither…nor…)?

Yes, it can also follow a negative part of a sentence. It is not really that different from "_nek... nek..." though:

mi nenion havas kontraŭ la enpreno de la novaj vortoj,
nek kontraŭ la elĵeto de kelkaj vortoj

(Lingvaj Respondoj, Zamenhof)

nek does not ever stand alone. It must either follow a negative (part of a) sentence, as above, or another nek or be part of the nek… nek… structure. In the same sentence.

That's because the meaning is ankaŭ ne, so it needs to have a relation with something else, that has already been said.

So, this sentence in another answer:

Mi ne povis deteni lin de parolado. Mi nek povis eviti aŭdi kion li diris.

should be either just one sentence (nek belongs to povi):

Mi ne povis deteni lin de parolado, nek eviti aŭdi kion li diris.

or two sentences (with ankaŭ ne):

Mi ne povis deteni lin de parolado. Mi ankaŭ ne povis eviti aŭdi kion li diris.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.