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  1. #1
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    Question Neither...nor...

    1) Neither James nor John (is, are) going to the movies. They have to stay at home.

    2) Neither you nor I (am, are, is) going to India next month.

    3) Neither John nor his classmates (is, are) attending the party tonight.


    Should the verb follows the subject closest to it? If so, the answer for #2 would be "Neither you nor I am going to India...". But it sounds weird isn't it?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Neither...nor...

    1) is
    3) are
    If the subjects are singular the verb is also singular and vice versa-if the subjects are plural the verb is also plural.
    I'm not sure about 2) so I'll wait for someone else to reply to that one.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Neither...nor...

    Good try, trustM.

    In addition, the rules are as follows:

    Use a singular verb if both elements are singular:

    1) Neither James nor John is going to the movies. They have to stay at home.

    Note, "James" and "John" are singular nouns.

    Use a plural verb, if one of the elements is plural or one of the elements is singular but takes a verb that looks plural; e.g., you are:

    2) Neither you nor I are going to India next month.

    3) Neither John nor his classmates are attending the party tonight.

    Note, proximity has nothing to do with subject-verb agreement:

    2) Neither you nor I are going to India next month.
    4)Neither our classmates nor John are attending the party tonight.

    Hope that helps.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Neither...nor.../ either...or...

    thanks for the great help!

    I see, so the verb is plural if one of the elements is plural.

    Does this rule apply for "Either...or..." as well?

    Either you or I (is, are, am) going to the concert.

    Either James or the boys (is, are, am) going to the concert.

    Either the boys or James (is, are) going to the concert.


    In this case, answers for all the above shld be "are". Am I right?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Neither...nor.../ either...or...

    You're welcome.

    Your answers are correct.

  6. #6
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    Talking A bit of correction(s).

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    Good try, trustM.

    In addition, the rules are as follows:

    Use a singular verb if both elements are singular:

    1) Neither James nor John is going to the movies. They have to stay at home.

    Note, "James" and "John" are singular nouns.

    Use a plural verb, if one of the elements is plural or one of the elements is singular but takes a verb that looks plural; e.g., you are:

    2) Neither you nor I are going to India next month.

    3) Neither John nor his classmates are attending the party tonight.

    Note, proximity has nothing to do with subject-verb agreement:

    2) Neither you nor I are going to India next month.
    4)Neither our classmates nor John are attending the party tonight.

    Hope that helps.
    Um..
    Sorry Casiopea (is that your real name, or just your nick?), I know that I'm just a newbie around here, but I am quite interested in English, therefore I've been doing some searching (is it searching or searchings?) and exploring on it. (but relax, I'm no expert, I still need a lot to learn)

    The POINT is, if I may correct one of your examples.
    4)Neither our classmates nor John are attending the party

    We shouldn't use the verb "are" in this sentence, but in this case, we should follow the rule of subject-verb agreement, which it should follow the closest subject to the verb:

    Neither our classmates nor John is attending the party.
    Or..
    Neither John nor our classmates are attending the party.

    The rule applies to "Either..or..." too..
    Has either my mom or my sisters contacted you about the news?
    Have either my sisters or my mom contacted you about the news?

    That's it, I hope you're not offended in any way.
    Hope my explanation helps.
    And feel free to coreect my grammar too, in case I made any, myself.
    Thanks..

    GBu..


    -=VGE=-
    Last edited by Vincents_Genesius_Evans; 22-Aug-2005 at 17:16.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: A bit of correction(s).

    Hello, and welcome

    Thank you for that wonderful addition.

    There are two types of subject-verb agreement at play with neither/nor and either/or. One is based on structure, the other on semantics.

    [1] Traditional Rule
    Structural agreement: the verb agrees in number with the closest or nearest subject:

    EX: Neither John nor our classmates are attending the party.
    EX: Neither our classmates nor John is attending the party.

    [2] Usage
    Notional agreement: the verb agrees in number with the semantics of the set:

    EX: Neither our classmates nor John are attending the party.
    EX: Neither John nor our classmates are attending the party.

    Consider:

    Neither is paired with nor as either is with or, and in those uses as conjunctions they pose usage problems of agreement. Usually they will take a singular verb if both parts of the structure are singular, as in Neither he nor his friend is ready, and if the first element is plural but the second element remains singular, the structure may still take a singular verb, as in Neither my friends nor my father is ready, although a plural is also possible. But if the second element is plural, the verb will almost always be plural: Neither my father nor his friends are ready. Agreement between neither/nor and the verb is frequently a matter of notional agreement: hence Standard English in all but its most Formal and Oratorical situations will usually accept either number of the verb.
    Source: bartelby.com
    In short, your addition is what the poster needed/needs to know.

    All the best,



  8. #8
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    Default Re: Neither...nor...

    Wow! Thanks for all the contributions and clarifications. I really learn a lot...

    If either number of the verb is accepted, what abt. the following examples:

    - Either you or I (is, are, am) going to the concert.

    - Neither you nor I are going to India next month.


    does it mean that all of the followings are correct?

    Either you or I are going to the concert.
    Either you or I am going to the concert.

    Neither you nor I are going to India next month.
    Neither you nor I am going to India next month.

    Lee San

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Neither...nor...

    Quote Originally Posted by kohls0607
    If either number of the verb is accepted, what abt. the following examples:

    - Either you or I (is, are, am) going to the concert.

    - Neither you nor I are going to India next month.
    Well, first of all, structural agreement is the traditional rule - the rule that most grammar texts and online grammar sites subscribe to. So, if you're writing an essay or a test it's probably best to use a verb that agrees in number with the closest subject. Secondly, in your first example, 'is' isn't an option.
    Thirdly, here's something of interest from barleby.com:

    either or and verb agreement. When all the elements in an either or construction (or a neither nor construction) used as the subject of a sentence are singular, the verb is singular: Either Eve or Herb has been invited. Analogously, when all the elements in the either or construction are plural, the verb is plural too: Either the Clarks or the Kays have been invited. When the construction mixes singular and plural elements, however, there is some confusion as to which form the verb should take. Some people argue that the verb should agree with whichever noun phrase is closest to it. The Usage Panel has much sympathy for this view. Fifty-five percent prefer the plural verb for the sentence Either the owner or the players is going/are going to have to give in. Another 12 percent find either verb acceptable, meaning that, overall, 67 percent accept the plural verb in such situations, and only 33 percent would require the singular. If none of these solutions satisfies you, the only alternative is to revise the sentence to avoid the either or construction


    In short, why stick to a tired old, confusing structure? Why not try it this way?

    EX: Either you are going, or I am going.

    As for either . . . or,

    Either you or I are going to the concert. (notional agreement)
    Either you or I am going to the concert. (traditional rule)

    Neither you nor I are going to India next month.
    Neither you nor I am going to India next month.

    All the best,

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Neither...nor...

    Thanks, Casiopea.

    I'm asking all these questions for my son. He's in Primary 3. During my time, I learned the traditional English grammar and I teach him what I know. However, he comes back and tells me the teacher teaches him otherwise. I'm so confused.

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