Either Or . . . Neither Nor . . . Connecting Singular Words and Plural Words and the Right Verb

Either orThere is some confusion over whether to  use a singular or a plural verb when using the famous connectors oreither . . . orneither . . . nor, or not only . . . but also. Here is a quick rundown that should help.

If you are connecting singular words using oreither . . . orneither . . . nor, or not only . . . but also, the subject is singular, so you would use a singular verb.

  • Either Mary or Patsy is working overtime tonight.
  • Neither peanut butter nor jelly is in my cupboard.

Note that it is now also acceptable to connect more than two words using the connectors above.

  • Neither paper nor toner nor a manual was included with the new printer.

If you are connecting two or more plural words using oreither . . . orneither . . . nor, or not only . . . but also, the subject is plural, so you would use a plural verb.

  • Either books or magazines are available in the doctor’s office.
  • Neither beans nor noodles are in my cupboard.

When you are using a mix of singular and plural words connected with oreither . . . orneither . . . nor, or not only . . . but also, the verb should agree with the nearer part of the subject.

  • Either a diamond necklace or pearls go with that evening gown.
  • Either pearls or a diamond necklace goes with that evening gown.
  • Neither the boss nor the workers expect to work late.
  • Neither the workers nor the boss expects to work late.

I hope this helps. Do you have a topic that continues to confuse you? Either leave a comment below or email me at proofthatblog@gmail.com and watch for a future blog post trying to make that topic easier to understand.

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