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Either you or I is/are/am...

Discussion in 'English Only' started by audiolaik, May 31, 2008.

  1. audiolaik

    audiolaik Senior Member

    Poland, Polish

    Neither of the girls seems at all interested in what either my wife or I is doing.

    As far as I remember, it would be possible to say ...my wife or I are doing.

    What about ...my wife or I am doing?

    I do know it sounds really odd, but I would like to know your opinion, dear native speakers.:D

    Thank you!
  2. El escoces Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    English - UK
    ...my wife or I is doing :tick:

    ...my wife or I are doing :cross: (strictly speaking)

    ...my wife and I are doing :tick:

    ...my wife or I am doing :cross:

    "My wife or I" equals "either one of us", so "is doing"; "my wife and I" equals us, we, so "are doing". First persona singular is not possible, except with "what I am doing".
  3. audiolaik

    audiolaik Senior Member

    Poland, Polish

    Now it is clear as a bell, El escoces!

    Thank you!
  4. moundflower Junior Member

    us english
    Either you or I is/are/am...

    I'm of the opinion that the verb should agree with "Either," which would make "is" the right choice.

    any thoughts.

    << Merged with previous thread.
    Please read from the top. >>
    Last edited: May 21, 2012
  5. Elwintee Senior Member

    London England
    England English
    Yes, you are right. Either [one or the other] is ...
  6. dn88 Senior Member

    Technically speaking, the verb should agree with the closer subject:

    Either you or I am...
  7. Elwintee Senior Member

    London England
    England English
    No, dn88, that is plain wrong. "Either" makes the difference. Either this or that is ...
  8. Pertinax

    Pertinax Senior Member

    Queensland, Aust
    I would say it as dn88 suggests: Either you or I am wrong.
    Using "is" grates on my ear, though so does "am" to a lesser degree.
    I prefer: Either you are wrong, or I am.
  9. cubaMania Senior Member

    That's right, "Either you or I am (wrong/tall/going to town/in trouble...)" is grammatically correct.
    Nevertheless, I would not say it. It sounds too strange, so I would avoid the problem by using two verbs as Pertinax suggests.
    I also agree with Pertinax that the grammatically incorrect "Either you or I is (wrong/tall/going to town/in trouble...)" sounds even worse.

    Elwintee, I think you are attempting to apply a rule for "either" when it is used as an indefinite pronoun, but here it is not an indefinite pronoun; it is a determiner. The subject is the compound "you or I" and the applicable rule is the proximity rule for compound subjects of the form 'X or Y'.
    Last edited: May 20, 2012
  10. dn88 Senior Member

    This is more complicated than I thought. I have yet to find a conclusive answer. Even grammar books and websites seem to disagree on this.
    I'm not sure what kind of difference it would make. The word "either" is clearly a conjunction in this case, so not a pronoun and therefore not the subject of the sentence. Are you implying that we should happily say "you or I am" but not "either you or I am"?

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