Is either/Are either of you...

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Grammar / Gramática Español-Inglés' started by Tadeo, Aug 26, 2009.

  1. Tadeo Senior Member

    Español (México)

    Well, I'm a little bit confused with the correct form of the verb/auxiliar in the following sentences, mainly beacuse they mix the words either/neither and you

    a) Is either of you going to it that?
    b) Are either of you going to eat that?

    a) Do either of you want to come?
    b) Does either of you want to come?

    And this particular one is really giving my a headache.

    Neither my best friend nor my brother is here.
    I know this is one is right, using the verb in third person.

    But what happens when I use the pronoun you?

    a) Neither you nor my brother are/ is here?

    What are the correct ones and why? Which part of the subject should the neither/either agree with?

    Thank you very much.
  2. Chez Senior Member

    English English
    Traditionally, it is correct to use the third person singular with 'either' and 'neither' (think of it as meaning 'either/neither one of you'). Nowadays, the third person plural is acceptable in informal speech (either/neither of you have...).

    Your final example is a problem. I think the same rule would apply and you should say 'is', but because that sounds completely wrong with 'you', most people would take the acceptable informal option and say 'are'.
  3. Spug Senior Member

    Hola Tadeo,

    I agree with Chez. It's a situation in which the language is changing. The correct grammar in your examples (singular verbs) sounds a bit too formal to many speakers today. The use of plural verbs in your examples would be acceptable in most cases.

    Here's a website that explains "neither/nor" and "either/or" constructions. As you will see, the rules are more complicated when one or both of the subject nouns are plural.

    Espero que te ayude.
  4. JB

    JB Senior Member

    Santa Monica, CA, EEUU
    English (AE)
    I am more of a purist. Yes, language changes (often for the better) but just because we now give advanced degrees and positions as journalists and senators to people who never learned to speak at a 6th-grade level does not, to me, mean we should just accept every stupid thing that comes out of their mouths.

    People say "neither one of you are" because they can only think back one word, to "you", as in "you are", rather than back 3 words, to remember what it is they are talking about.

    If you "neither one of you are", most Americans are too stupid (in my opinion" to realize you are wrong, and you can get away with it.

    If you are writing a formal paper, and want to be correct, then "neither one" has to be singular - how it possibly be plural?

    Neither one is
    Neither John nor Mary is
    Neither he nor you is

    I have often heard "Judge Millian" on "The People's Court" (TV show) say things like:
    "Well, either he or you are lying". If I ever meet her in person, I will correct her. I know that in Spanish (she is of Cuban descent, I believe) she would never say, "O él o tú están mintiendo." Es lo mismo en inglés - en mi humilde opinión.
  5. Tadeo Senior Member

    Español (México)
    Thank you very much for your answers and for the link, it was very useful.

    So to sum it up,

    Neither he nor you is ready. Is this the grammatically correct structure?

    Neither he nor you are ready. Is this completely wrong or just frowned upon?

    Although after reading the rules in the linj, I think the best option would be:

    Neither you nor he is ready. (Neither of you is ready) What do you think?
  6. FromPA

    FromPA Senior Member

    Philadelphia area
    USA English
    How true!
  7. weeshus

    weeshus Senior Member

    England / Spain
    English - England
    I agree wholeheartedly with jbruceismay and FromPA. The Oxford Library of English Usage has this to say:

    "The number of the pronoun and adjective [neither] is properly singular and disregard of this fact is a recognised grammatical mistake, though, with the pronoun at least very common:

    The conception is faulty for two reasons neith of which are noticed by Plato / What I at present believe neither of us know.

    Grammar requires is noticed and knows.

    The same mistake with the adjective is so obviously wrong as to be almost impossible; not quite however:

    Both Sir Harry Verney and Mr Gladstone were very brief, neither speeches exceeding fifteen minutes"

    The Oxford Library of English Usage goes on at some length to illustrate the number and person of the verb after neither..nor. If both subjects are singular and in the third person the verb must be singular.

    The section on neither is both interesting and worth a look should one have time

    Hope this helps - regards


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