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  1. #1
    perfectera is offline Junior Member
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    Default singular or plural?

    Hello.
    I have a question:
    If 2 subjects are connected with 'or', a verb is set for singular or plural?
    For example,
    They or he have or has? to take responsibility.

    Thanks in advance.

    mi

  2. #2
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: singular or plural?

    I'd go for:

    S or S + singular verb
    S or P + plural verb
    P or P + plural verb.

    I would avoid using P + S, though if for some reason it occurred, I'd go for the plural form of the verb.

  3. #3
    perfectera is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: singular or plural?

    5jj,
    Thanks for your advice!mi

  4. #4
    nelson13 is offline Member
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    Default Re: singular or plural?

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    I'd go for:

    S or S + singular verb
    S or P + plural verb
    P or P + plural verb.

    I would avoid using P + S, though if for some reason it occurred, I'd go for the plural form of the verb.
    With all due respect, I can't agree with 5jj, although I still have a lot to learn from him.

    In English, according to the principle of proximity, the verb form wholly depends on the noun nearest to the verb, when OR is used in the subjects, so in the example given by the thread starter, you can only say

    They or he has to take responsibility.

  5. #5
    bhaisahab's Avatar
    bhaisahab is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: singular or plural?

    Quote Originally Posted by nelson13 View Post
    With all due respect, I can't agree with 5jj, although I still have a lot to learn from him.

    In English, according to the principle of proximity, the verb form wholly depends on the noun nearest to the verb, when OR is used in the subjects, so in the example given by the thread starter, you can only say

    They or he has to take responsibility.
    That would sound unnatural IMO.

  6. #6
    nelson13 is offline Member
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    Default Re: singular or plural?

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    That would sound unnatural IMO.
    Yes, it may.

    But grammar and naturality sometimes can be divorced.

    In English-speaking countries, you can often hear:

    XYZ and me are going to....

    If you replace ME with I, for certain native English speakers will say it's strange, but in the sentence, the two persons are the subjects, so I is the only grammatical form.

  7. #7
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: singular or plural?

    You are comparing two different things. The majority of at least moderately educated speakers of English consider 'XYZ and me are going to' be substandard. (This may not be true soon, but that's the situation at present). To the majority, 'They or me has' or 'they or I am' sound unnatural. Artificial grammar rules can't make an unnatural thing natural. The 'principle of proximity' is an observation, not a law.
    Last edited by 5jj; 16-Nov-2012 at 16:07.

  8. #8
    Chicken Sandwich's Avatar
    Chicken Sandwich is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: singular or plural?

    Quote Originally Posted by nelson13 View Post
    In English, according to the principle of proximity, the verb form wholly depends on the noun nearest to the verb, when OR is used in the subjects, so in the example given by the thread starter, you can only say

    They or he has to take responsibility.
    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****

    Martin Hewings would disagree with your "rule". Perhaps the following extract may shed some more light on this matter:

    When a subject is made up of two or more items joined by (either)...or... or (neither)...nor... we use a singular verb if the last item is singular (although a plural verb is sometimes used in informal English), and a plural verb if the last item is plural:

    • Either the station or the cinema is a good place to meet, (or ...are... in informal English)
    • The President or his representatives are to attend the meeting.

    If the last item is singular and previous item plural, we can use a singular or plural verb:

    • Either the teachers or the principal is to blame for the accident. (or ...are to blame...)

    (Advanced Grammar in Use - Martin Hewings, p. 82)

    Quote Originally Posted by nelson13 View Post
    If you replace ME with I, for certain native English speakers will say it's strange...
    I think that most native speakers who use the "XYZ and me" or "Me and XYZ" construction would recognize that "XYZ and I" is also possible, if not more correct. It just so happens that the wrong construction is used by speakers, despite being ungrammatical. I think that those who'd say something like "Me and my buddy went to the pub" know that ths construction is ungrammatical. Why? Well, no native speaker would say "Me went to the pub".
    Last edited by Chicken Sandwich; 16-Nov-2012 at 16:32.

  9. #9
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: singular or plural?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chicken Sandwich View Post
    I think that those who'd say something like "Me and my buddy went to the pub" know that ths construction is ungrammatical. Why? Well, no native speaker would say "Me went to the pub".
    I am not sure that I agree with you there. 'Me and Joe went to the pub' appears to be very natural for many speakers of BrE, though they would not say 'Me went to the pub'. Prescriptive grammarians in the past reasoned that the subject of a verb must be in the 'nominative case' and self-effacement meant that the speaker must come second; therefore, it must be 'Joe and I ...'; 'Me and Joe' was sub-standard. The prescriptivists succeeded in this case in that the 'correct' form is taught in schools, and used by those who like to consider themselves educated.

    Many speakers, however, ignore the rule once they leave school, and revert to their natural form. With heroes from the world of music, sport, soaps and reality shows as role models for many, the use of the 'sub-standard' form appears to be increasing. It is commonly seen in print in magazines aimed at lower socio-economic classes, and it is practically standard in some chatrooms. I would not be too surprised if the 'correct' form went the way of 'whom' and 'shall' one day.

  10. #10
    blackdragon is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: singular or plural?

    either...or....
    neither...nor....
    not only.....but also..
    ==> the subject and verb agreement could be found on the subject close to or, nor, but also.

    * S1 ,as well as ,
    * S1,together with ,
    * S1, accompanied by ,
    ==> the subject and verb agreement could be found on the subject 1

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