Has/Have either of you...?

tufguy

Senior Member
hindi
1) "Has" or "have" either of you seen my book?

2) "Are" or "is" either of you ready to go?

What should be used in these sentences?
 
  • prudent260

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    "Either", like "each", is singular, and you should therefore use the singular form.

    I second GreenWhiteBlue.

    “The Cambridge Guide to English Usage” had an example in the section of either and neither:

    “Neither of their suggestions appeal(s) to us.”
    “In such cases the plural verb could be prompted by proximity agreement… the singular construction sounds more precise and stylistically more formal; but examples of the plural verb could be found in written data analyzed for the Longman Grammar.”
    either | meaning of either in Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English | LDOCE
    neither | meaning of neither in Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English | LDOCE

    The use of a plerual verb here might only be accepted in speech and informal writing.
     
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    Ali Smith

    Senior Member
    Urdu - Pakistan
    So, would the following sentence be considered wrong?

    If either of you have seen him today, please let me know as soon as possible. Thanks.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    "Correct/wrong" is not precise. Language isn't mathematics, with precise yes/no lines.

    Where did you see this sentence? What is the source?

    So, would the following sentence be considered wrong?
    Be considered wrong by who? Your friend on the bus? Your teacher in English class? A magazine editor on the internet?
     

    Ali Smith

    Senior Member
    Urdu - Pakistan
    By educated native speakers of American English such as yourself.

    I made this sentence up.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Our dictionary has a couple of user notes.

    I find this useful: "When EITHER is followd by a prepositional phrase with a plural object, there is a tendency ro use a plural verb, but a singular verb is more common."

    Example sentences given:
    Either of them is (or are) good enough.
    Either of the shrubs grows (or grow) well in this soil.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Since when has the English language been that logical?:) I think a singular verb is the safest choice.

    I have no strong feelings on this myself, but sentence 2 in post #1 sounds strange to me:"Are either of you ready to go?"

    Is either of you ready to go? :tick:
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    So, would the following sentence be considered wrong?
    If either of you have seen him today, please let me know as soon as possible. Thanks.
    I see you are skillfully using the passive to avoid specifying who you mean!
    Yes, some self-appointed prescriptive grammarians will say it is “ungrammatical”, and various other people will heed their advice.
     
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    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    Since "either of them" means "either one of them", I don't see how a plural verb can be considered correct.
    If I hadn't checked Ngrams, my reply would match post #10. But if people say it (even if I don't) it is correct.

    Maybe singular is "old-school" and plural is more recent. I remember the 1973 hit song (Gladys Knight & the Pips):
    Neither one of us wants to be the first to say goodbye.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Re post 6

    I'm pretty sure that I'd say If either of you have seen him.

    Feel free to hurl stones at me:D
     

    Cet

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    If I were just talking and not thinking about it, I would definitely say "Are either of you ready?" or "Have either of you___?" It's not standard, but it is how plenty of native speakers talk, myself included.

    If the question is about which to use in writing or English class though, stick with standardized grammar: either = singular
     
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