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    #1

    Subject-Verb agreement with "or"

    PLEASE HELP!!!

    "I authorize and direct the Minister to make all payments if I or my former spouse apply (applies?) for benefits under the plan."

    Is it apply or applies? My gut tells me it is apply because I and former spouse are singular subjects.

    But I'm confused as to why it is not "applies" because isn't my "former spouse" 3rd person singular?

    Please explain why it is apply!

    Thanks

  1. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Subject-Verb agreement with "or"

    Quote Originally Posted by Jbrow2487 View Post
    PLEASE HELP!!!

    "I authorize and direct the Minister to make all payments if I or my former spouse apply (applies?) for benefits under the plan."

    Is it apply or applies? My gut tells me it is apply because I and former spouse are singular subjects.

    But I'm confused as to why it is not "applies" because isn't my "former spouse" 3rd person singular?

    Please explain why it is apply!

    Thanks
    Normally, when there are two singular subjects connected by "or", the singular form of the verb (applies) is used. The pronoun "I" makes this issue trickier because "I" takes the verb "apply". When there is conflict, the subject closest to the verb takes precedence. Technically, therefore, the verb should be "applies".

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Subject-Verb agreement with "or"

    It's much more common in English to say "my former spouse or I"; "my former spouse and I".
    The exception I'd make is where the description of the other party is more complex - "If I, or any of the people who I have deputized, apply ..."

  3. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Subject-Verb agreement with "or"

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    It's much more common in English to say "my former spouse or I"; "my former spouse and I".
    The exception I'd make is where the description of the other party is more complex - "If I, or any of the people who I have deputized, apply ..."
    I agree, based on politeness, not grammar. However, I have seen legal documents (wills, partnerships) in which the writer comes before others. This may have a legal consequence that trumps politeness, particularly with a "former spouse".

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    #5

    Re: Subject-Verb agreement with "or"

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    I agree, based on politeness, not grammar. However, I have seen legal documents (wills, partnerships) in which the writer comes before others. This may have a legal consequence that trumps politeness, particularly with a "former spouse".

    Yes, the document that I am looking at is indeed a legal document. Which is why I'm still unsure as to if it is "apply" or "applies"

  4. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Subject-Verb agreement with "or"

    Quote Originally Posted by Jbrow2487 View Post
    Yes, the document that I am looking at is indeed a legal document. Which is why I'm still unsure as to if it is "apply" or "applies"
    That may be important. But, based on what I know, which is not much in the legal world, I would use "applies".

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