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    #1

    Is there any juice or apples on the table?

    Hi, there.

    I just came across a rather simple but weird grammar question in class.
    Which one is grammatically correct?
    1. Is there any juice or apples on the table?
    2. Are there any juice or apples on the table?

    If the first sentence is correct, is it because "or" refers to "Pick one of them?"
    As a result, the verb has to go with the near one. Is that it?

    If the second sentence is correct instead the first, then why?

    Any ideas or thoughts are appreciated!


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    #2

    Re: Is there any juice or apples on the table?

    Quote Originally Posted by kiweep7 View Post
    Hi, there.

    I just came across a rather simple but weird grammar question in class.
    Which one is grammatically correct?
    1. Is there any juice or apples on the table?
    2. Are there any juice or apples on the table?

    If the first sentence is correct, is it because "or" refers to "Pick one of them?"
    As a result, the verb has to go with the near one. Is that it?

    If the second sentence is correct instead the first, then why?

    Any ideas or thoughts are appreciated!

    The second would be correct, simply because "juice and apples" is a plural statement (more than one), and you would not use "is" with them, you would use "are" with them.

    You can use this as a general guideline for the difference between is and are:


    1. Use there IS for singular nouns (one item).

    Example: There IS a glass of milk on the table.

    1. Use there IS for non-count items (group nouns).

    Example: There IS milk on the table.

    1. Use there ARE for many items (plural nouns).

    Example: There ARE three glasses of milk on the table.

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    #3

    Re: Is there any juice or apples on the table?

    What is being spoken about here is "juice or apples", and not "juice and apples". I would think that the verb "Is" is acceptable as the closest noun is the uncountable noun, "juice".


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    #4

    Re: Is there any juice or apples on the table?

    Quote Originally Posted by boac View Post
    What is being spoken about here is "juice or apples", and not "juice and apples". I would think that the verb "Is" is acceptable as the closest noun is the uncountable noun, "juice".
    The word "or" is irrelevant.

    With your first example:

    1. Is there any juice or apples on the table?

    This is incorrect.

    Is there any juice on the table?

    This would be correct. However, since there are both juice and apples in the original sentence (JUICE, one, and APPLES, two (that makes two, which is greater than one, and therefore is plural)), you would say "are." This is a fundamental of the language--What is to the sentence is not always to the grammar.

    But hell, feel free to think that I'm incorrect, because, after all, I'm not the one being tested here.

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    #5

    Re: Is there any juice or apples on the table?

    Thanks for your ideas, guys!
    But I'm even more confused now.

    Is there any juice or apples on the table?

    Is the word "or" relevant to whether to apply "is" or "are?"
    If not, what decides which one to apply?

    BTW, I know it's kind of weird and sounds foreign to say a sentence
    like this in everyday conversation.
    Sorry and cheers.

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    #6

    Re: Is there any juice or apples on the table?

    I was giving an opinion based on what I had read in a grammar textbook. This is what I saw recently on a grammar web page:

    (start quote)

    The conjunction or does not conjoin (as and does): when nor or or is used the subject closer to the verb determines the number of the verb. Whether the subject comes before or after the verb doesn't matter; the proximity determines the number.

    Either my father or my brothers are going to sell the house.
    Neither my brothers nor my father is going to sell the house.
    Are either my brothers or my father responsible?
    Is either my father or my brothers responsible?

    (end quote)

    However, here is an opinion at another grammar web page on this grammar point:

    (start quote)

    Plural Verb with a Plural Element

    If the pairings either/or or neither/nor form part of the subject of a verb and at least one of the elements is plural, then the verb must be plural too.

    Examples:

    Neither the lawyer nor the detectives are able to follow the sequence
    of events.
    "lawyer" (singular - i.e., one person), "detectives" (plural - i.e., more than
    one person), "are" (plural - i.e., not "is")

    There were neither cakes nor ice-cream at the party.

    Neither the firemen nor the policemen know him. (i.e., not "knows")

    Either the budgies or the cat has to go.

    Proximity Rule

    Not all grammar conventions agree with the ruling above. In fact, there is notable leniency on whether to use a plural or singular verb when one of the elements is plural. Under 'the proximity rule', the verb is governed by the element nearest to it.

    Examples:

    Either crumpets or cake is sufficient.
    ( under standard convention; should be "are sufficient")
    ( under the proximity rule - "cake" governs "is" because it is the nearest element.)

    There was neither ice-cream nor chocolates at the party.
    ( under standard convention; should be "were")
    ( under the proximity rule - "ice-cream" governs "was" because it is the nearest element.)

    (end quote)

    I personally feel that if this grammar point is something that is usually asked from your students for their tests, it may be useful to find out what answer is expected from them.

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    #7

    Re: Is there any juice or apples on the table?

    Quote Originally Posted by kiweep7 View Post
    Thanks for your ideas, guys!
    But I'm even more confused now.

    Is there any juice or apples on the table?

    Is the word "or" relevant to whether to apply "is" or "are?"
    If not, what decides which one to apply?

    BTW, I know it's kind of weird and sounds foreign to say a sentence
    like this in everyday conversation.
    Sorry and cheers.
    The construction, "Is there any juice or apples on the table?" is very common in everyday conversation. It's just grammatically questionable.
    "Are there any juice or apples on the table?" is not something many native speakers would say.
    In writing, you would probably be best advised to change it to:
    "Are there any apples or juice on the table?"

    "Are there any apples and juice on the table?" is also not something that natives would say. Let's say a caterer wants to make sure the tables are all properly prepared. They would say:
    "Are there apples and juice on the table?" or "Is there juice and apples on the table".

    This conforms to the 'proximity rule' outlined in the above post. But I haven't relied on that. It's what I believe most people actually say. The proximity rule might not be what your examiners want though - for example, TheFuzzyTie would apparently not accept it. So it's always good to know your examiners.
    Last edited by Raymott; 07-May-2010 at 09:39.

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