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  1. Junior Member
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    #1

    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. 5jj's Avatar
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    #2

    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. Junior Member
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    #3

    Re: singular or plural?

    5jj,
    Thanks for your advice!mi

  4. Member
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    #4

    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. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #5

    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.

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    #6

    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. 5jj's Avatar
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    #7

    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 17:07.

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