GrammarPhile Blog

Subjects Joined by "And"

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Feb 8, 2011 5:30:00 AM

describe the imageWe see confusion reign when it comes to multiple subjects in sentences. Let's refer to some cogent advice from The Gregg Reference Manual:

If the subject consists of two or more words that are connected by and or by both...and, the subject is plural and requires a plural verb.

  • Ms. Rizzo and Mr. Bruce have received promotions.
  • Both the collection and the delivery of mail are to be curtailed as of July 1. (The repetition of the with the second subject emphasizes that two different items are meant.)
  • The general managers and the controllers are attending a three-day meeting this week.
  • The sales projections and the cost estimate do not have to be revised.
Use a singular verb when two or more subjects connected by and refer to the same person or thing.
  • Our secretary and treasurer is Frances Eisenberg. (One person.)
  • Corned beef and cabbage was his favorite dish. (One dish.)
  • Wear and tear has to be expected when you're in the rental business. (One type of damage.)
Use a singular verb when two or more subjects connected by and are preceded by each, every, many a, or many an.
  • Every computer, printer, and fax machine is marked for reduction.
  • Many a woman and man has responded to our plea for contributions.
If the subject consists of two or more singular words that are connected by or, either...or, neither...nor, or not only...but also, the subject is singular and requires a singular verb.
  • Either July or August is a good time for the water ski tournament.
  • Neither the Mastercraft nor the Nautique has a first-aid kit on board.
  • Not only a jump but also a slalom course needs to be installed.

What about "Neither the buyers nor the sales manager is in favor of the system"? Is that correct? Stay tuned for more on these tricky subject/verb combinations!

Source: The Gregg Reference Manual.

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Topics: singular verb, multiple subjects, plural or singular verb

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