Subject-verb agreement with either...or, neither...nor...

Discussion in 'English Only' started by kittigger, Aug 28, 2009.

  1. kittigger Senior Member

    If I have a sentence starting with Either...or / Neither...Nor...., which Subject should the verb agree with?

    For example:
    Either you or she has to apologize.
    Neither his brother nor his parents support his career choice.

    Do you think that the two sentences above are correct in subject-verb agreement?
  2. Zsuzsu Senior Member

    Budapest, Hungary
    Hi kittigger,

    This is the rule I follow if I have a subject made up of two or more items: if the last is singular, use a singular verb, and if the last is plural, use a plural verb. Just like in your examples.
    Addition1: Sometimes, in informal language, two singular subjects are followed by a plural verb e.g. Either you or she have to apologize.
    Addition2: If the first item is plural and the second is singular, you can use either a singular or a plural verb: Neither his parents nor his brother support/s his career choice.

    I wonder whether the natives can confirm my usage.
  3. spirals Senior Member

    English - England
    Zsuzsu, that sounds about right though I'm not sure about Addition 1. I'm sure that most native speakers don't know whether there's a rule about what's correct so I doubt whether there are many people who would notice or care.

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