A or B...is/are


Senior Member
Reward or punishment are meted out quite independent of human interference.
Hello, everyone. I am not sure whether the word "are" used in the quote was correct or not, if it is corret, can we use "is"? Why?

Thank you in advance!!
  • Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hello, jerry

    I'd say:
    Reward or punishment is meted out:tick:
    Rewards or punishments are meted out :tick:
    Reward or punishment are meted out


    In support of Loob, I will add that the verb agrees with the closer subject.

    In fact, this is true even if one subject is plural and one is singular.

    Cash or prizes are awarded.
    Prizes or cash is awarded.


    Senior Member
    USA English
    I agree with Loob and GrandBlank. In this sentence, two subjects are coordinated with or, which represents a choice, so the verb generally agrees with the nearer one:

    The reward or punishment meted out is quite independent of (any) human interference.

    (I have taken the liberty of adding an article and moving the verb to make sense out of the sentence.)
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