For the background to my writing challenge, please read my first blog by clicking the following link – http://wp.me/p1x6Ui-4. 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.
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.
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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.