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conjunctions, Verbs

Note 49 – Singular v Plural verb with coordinating conjunctions

For the background to my writing challenge, please read my first blog by clicking the following link – If you would prefer to dive straight into note 49, then please read on…

What’s the number of the verb with coordinating conjunctions?

Bernard C Lamb in his book The Queen’s English explains that if the nouns used with ‘either… or’ or ‘neither…nor’ are singular, then follow this with a singular verb; however, if the nouns are plural then follow this with a plural verb.  Please see my examples below to understand this better:

Neither tigers nor lions are allowed out of their cages at the zoo.

Explanation: ‘tigers’ and ‘lions’ are plural nouns, therefore the plural verb ‘are’ is used.

Either pink or yellow is going to be the colour of the walls in Samantha’s room.

Explanation: ‘pink’ and ‘yellow’ are singular nouns, therefore the singular verb ‘is’ is used.

Quick test

Now try answering these yourself.  Is the verb ‘is’ or ‘are’ in the following sentences?

(1) Neither text books not calculators is/are allowed during the test

(2) Either Stephen or Mark is/are allowed to come with me to the concert

You will find the answers at the end of the blog.  Hope you are enjoying your weekend. 

Until tomorrow…


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My other blog:

My website: (includes first chapter of my book)

Twitter: @madeirasandra and @tipsandluxuries

Reference list:

Bernard C. Lamb The Queen’s English (2010), UK


(1) ‘Are’ is the correct answer. 

Explanation: text books and calculators are plural nouns therefore you would use a plural verb.

(2) ‘Is’ is the correct answer

Explanation: Stephen and Mark are singluar nouns therefore you would use a singular verb.


About Sandra Madeira

I am a full-time working mum with a passion for writing and inspiring others. Subjects I tend to blog about are life skills, parenting, decluttering, worklife balance, etc. At the moment I am on a decluttering mission creating space in my house, garden and mind. I have challenged myself to do at least ten minutes a day and write about it. Have a good day! Sandra Freelance Writer


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