Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Subject-Verb Agreement (1).

Today: The General Rule. The simple rule is to use a plural verb with a plural subject, a singular verb with a singular subject. But there are complications. If a sentence has two or more singular subjects connected by “and,” use a plural verb. Yet if the subjects really amount to a single person or thing, use a singular verb {the apple of his eye and the source of his inspiration is Heather}. And if the sentence has two singular subjects connected by “or,” “either . . . or,” or “neither . . . nor,” use a singular verb {let me know if you or your client has any questions}. Next: False Attraction to Noun Intervening Between Subject and Verb. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “It is because we have scrapped most of our conjugations, nearly all our declensions and agreements, and all of our artificial genders, that the Danish philologist, [Otto] Jespersen, felt at liberty to call English the most advanced of modern languages, the least cumbrous grammatically, the simplest and most logical in its directness.” Brander Matthews, Essays on English 177-78 (1922).
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