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Verbs


Rule 6:
When two or more subjects are joined with or, the subject closest to the verb determines whether the verb should be singular or plural.
When we join two plural subjects with or (or nor), as in "the books or the tapes," the subject closest to the verb determines the verb should be singular or plural.

For example,

• The book (singular) or the tapes (plural) were (plural) sent.
• The books (plural) or the tapes (plural) were (plural) sent.
• The books (plural) or the tape (singular) was (singular) sent.
• The book (singular) or the tape (singular) was (singular) sent.

When you join a singular subject and a plural subject with or, put the plural subject last so that the sentence will have a plural verb. Doing so will make the sentence sound more natural.

Examples:

• The Smiths or John is coming. (sounds awkward)
• John or the Smiths are coming. (sounds more natural)


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