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  1. 1364's Avatar
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      • Native Language:
      • Persian
      • Home Country:
      • Iran
      • Current Location:
      • Iran

    • Join Date: Apr 2005
    • Posts: 215
    #1

    Question *~Neither of ~*

    Hi everybody ;
    Would you please tell me which of the following answers is appropriate for this sentence:

    Neither of the students______absent.
    (1)is
    (2)are

    Best wishes

  2. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970
    #2

    Re: *~Neither of ~*

    Bartleby.com is a great source:

    singular or plural. The traditional rule also holds that neither is grammatically singular: Neither candidate is having an easy time with the press. However, it is often used with a plural verb, especially when followed by of and a plural: Neither of the candidates are really expressing their own views.

  3. 1364's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Persian
      • Home Country:
      • Iran
      • Current Location:
      • Iran

    • Join Date: Apr 2005
    • Posts: 215
    #3

    Question Re: *~Neither of ~*

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    Bartleby.com is a great source:

    singular or plural. The traditional rule also holds that neither is grammatically singular: Neither candidate is having an easy time with the press. However, it is often used with a plural verb, especially when followed by of and a plural: Neither of the candidates are really expressing their own views.
    Thanks dear CAS; yes you are right, but what should we do? If we have such question in our exam which one should be chosen: "is" or "areĒ? Iím really mixed up
    All the best

  4. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970
    #4

    Re: *~Neither of ~*

    The traditional rule also holds that neither is grammatically singular. In other words, "neither" agrees in number with "is", never "are". I will explain this further below.

    [1a]Neither (candidate) is having an easy time with the press.

    "Neither" modifies the noun "candidate". Both are singular, so the verb is also singular. Omit the noun "candidate" and "Neither" becomes the subject, a noun, a substantive noun, substituting for a noun. It's singular, so the verb is also singular:

    [1b] Neither is having an easy time with the press.

    Below, "Neither" takes a prepositional phrase as modification. We know it's modification and not the subject because we can omit it (...) without changing the sentence's core meaning.

    [2a]Neither (of the candidates) is having an easy time with the press.

    The subject is "Neither", its modification is "of the candidates". Omit the word "Neither" and the sentence is rendered ungrammatical (*):

    [2b] *Of the candidates are having an easy time with the press.

    Omit "Neither of" and the sentence's core meaning changes:

    [2c] The candidates are having an easy time with the press. (affirmative)
    [2a] Neither of them are having an easy time with the press. (negative)

    In short, "Neither" is grammatically singular. Any modification (e.g., "of . . . ") is added info and not privy to subject-verb agreement.

    Here's the Non-standard usage: Some speakers, both learned and lay, switch the order, treating "neither of" as modification:

    EX: Neither of the candidates are having an easy time with the press.

    The assumption, the verb agrees in number with the closest noun, and since "Neither" doesn't appear to be a "noun", it's passed over and treated as a modifier. The result, the verb agrees in number with the preposition's object, "the candidates":

    EX: Neither of the candidates are . . .

    Though, traditionally, both prescriptive and descriptive takes on the matter, a verb cannot agree in number with a noun that sits inside of a prepositional phrase.

    EX: Neither [of the candidates] is

    The preposition "of" governs its phrase ([...]); nothing can work its way in, not even subject-verb agreement. But . . . speakers have found a way around it. They've split the prepositional phrase, like this,

    Standard
    Neither [of the candidates] is

    Non-Standard
    Neither of [the candidates] are

    Does that help?

  5. Steven D's Avatar
    Senior Member
    English Teacher

    • Join Date: Sep 2004
    • Posts: 834
    #5

    Re: *~Neither of ~*

    Quote Originally Posted by 1364
    Hi everybody ;
    Would you please tell me which of the following answers is appropriate for this sentence:

    Neither of the ______absent.

    (1)is
    (2)are


    Best wishes
    This is a usage issue. In this sentence use "are" - plural verb. In this case it certainly sounds more natural after a plural noun - students.

    Also, we might consider that "neither of them" means more than one. But that's something else.
    Last edited by Steven D; 01-Dec-2005 at 04:05.

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