How is your dad and mum or how are your dad and mum?

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Annister

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Good morning everyone :). I searched before asking this question but I haven't found a similar topic (I hope I did the search correctly).
My doubt is about the verb I should use in the above question that involves more than one person.
Is it singular (how is) or plural (how are)?
Have a nice day and thank you.
 

Rover_KE

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'How are your dad and mum?'

Am I right in thinking you'd say 'Votre papa et maman - comment ils-vont?' and not '... comment ils-va?'
 

emsr2d2

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I'm not sure about other variants but in BrE (south-east of the country), it is very unusual to hear the word order "dad and mum". It is almost invariably worded "mum and dad".

That only changes when parents divorce and get re-married. Then, the two couples become "My mum and stepdad" and "My dad and stepmum". Of course, we don't address our stepparents as "Stepmum" and "Stepdad" - the words are used when referring to them to a third party.

When my parents were married, I referred to them as "Mum and Dad". Then they divorced so my mum is still "Mum" but I now go to visit "my dad and stepmum". If I write, for example, a wedding anniversary card to them, I write "To Dad and Susan", whereas when I sent anniversary cards to my parents, I wrote "To Mum and Dad".
 

TheParser

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Hello, Annister:

My teachers taught me to MENTALLY put such sentences in regular order (subject + verb) for analysis.

1. "How _____ your mother and father?" = "Your mother and father ____ how?"

a. Of course, you would put "are" in the blank.

2. "Where _____ your mother and father now?"
3. "Why _____ your mother and father laughing?"
4. "When _____ your mother and father coming to visit me?"
 

GoesStation

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Am I right in thinking you'd say 'Votre papa et maman - comment ils-vont?' and not '... comment ils-va?'

Either comment vont-ils or comment ils vont. The hyphen only appears when subject and verb are inverted.

Actually I think only the first is likely. Inversion is usually foregone in modern conversational French, but I think it's still usual in very short questions like this.
 

Skrej

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This is a basic subject-verb agreement situation. Singular subjects require singular verbs, and plural subjects require a plural verb.

If you re-order the sentence as Parser suggests in post #4, you'll see that you have two subjects joined by the conjunction 'and'. That always makes the subject plural, so you then need a plural verb
 

emsr2d2

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However (there's always a however!), in colloquial, casual BrE, you'll hear "How's your mum and dad?" or "How's your parents?" In that case, the "your" is usually shorted to more like "yuh" or "yer". I don't recommend that any learner use it but just be aware that you might hear it if you're in the UK.
 

Annister

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Yes, Rover, you are right. I was confused because I think I remember a rule talking about different objects being considered as singular ones and so taking a singular verb, or something like that. I am sorry if cannot explain this better, maybe someone knows this rule better than me. Or maybe I'm completely wrong :oops:
 

Annister

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Thank you, emrs2d2. I didn't know about that, it's very interesting and it's right too ... mums should always come first :)

I'm not sure about other variants but in BrE (south-east of the country), it is very unusual to hear the word order "dad and mum". It is almost invariably worded "mum and dad".

That only changes when parents divorce and get re-married. Then, the two couples become "My mum and stepdad" and "My dad and stepmum". Of course, we don't address our stepparents as "Stepmum" and "Stepdad" - the words are used when referring to them to a third party.

When my parents were married, I referred to them as "Mum and Dad". Then they divorced so my mum is still "Mum" but I now go to visit "my dad and stepmum". If I write, for example, a wedding anniversary card to them, I write "To Dad and Susan", whereas when I sent anniversary cards to my parents, I wrote "To Mum and Dad".
 

Annister

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This helps very much, Parser. Merci :)

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Hello, Annister:

My teachers taught me to MENTALLY put such sentences in regular order (subject + verb) for analysis.

1. "How _____ your mother and father?" = "Your mother and father ____ how?"

a. Of course, you would put "are" in the blank.

2. "Where _____ your mother and father now?"
3. "Why _____ your mother and father laughing?"
4. "When _____ your mother and father coming to visit me?"
 

Annister

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Thank you, Skrej. Like I wrote to Rover, I was confused because I thought the two objects had to be taken as singulars. There is so much I have to learn yet about English, it seems an impossible mission :-?

This is a basic subject-verb agreement situation. Singular subjects require singular verbs, and plural subjects require a plural verb.

If you re-order the sentence as Parser suggests in post #4, you'll see that you have two subjects joined by the conjunction 'and'. That always makes the subject plural, so you then need a plural verb
 

Annister

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That doesn't mean they don't love their dad, sometimes it's not easy for the children (I know that from experience).

My offspring don't send my second wife and me an anniversary card. :cry:

Mind you, they weren't at the wedding. (We did it on a whim in Oman), and neither my wife nor I ever remembers the date, so I suppose I can't blame them.
 

emsr2d2

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There are some examples of two objects being treated as a singular in BrE. For example, "fish and chips" - this is taken to be the description of one specific meal because the two are so often served together and constitute a classic British dish. "Fish and chips is my favourite dish".
 
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