Subject and verb agreement is a fundamental grammatical concept that ensures clarity and coherence in writing. It requires the subject of a sentence to agree with the verb in terms of number, person, and tense. In many cases, writers can easily identify the subject and verb of a sentence and agree them effortlessly. However, things can get a bit complicated when neither or nor is involved. In this article, we will explore subject and verb agreement with neither nor and how to use them correctly in your writing.
Neither nor is a correlative conjunction used to indicate that both elements in a sentence are not true or applicable. When using neither nor, the subject and the verb must agree in terms of number and person. Let`s look at some examples:
1. Neither John nor his brothers are coming to dinner tonight.
2. Neither the book nor the movie was good.
In sentence 1, the subject is John and his brothers, and the verb is are coming. Since the subject is plural, the verb should also be plural, making the sentence grammatically correct. In sentence 2, the subject is the book and the movie, and the verb is was good. Even though the subject comprises two individual things, the verb should agree with the closest element, which is the movie. Therefore, the verb should be singular, making the sentence grammatically correct.
Here are some common mistakes to avoid when using neither nor:
1. Incorrect: Neither the cat or the dog likes to play with the ball.
Correct: Neither the cat nor the dog likes to play with the ball.
In the incorrect example, the writer uses the conjunction or instead of nor. This mistake can cause the sentence to be grammatically incorrect since the verb would not agree with the subject. The correct version of the sentence uses neither nor, and the verb agrees with the subject, making the sentence grammatically sound.
2. Incorrect: Neither Mary nor her friends were able to decide on which restaurant to go.
Correct: Neither Mary nor her friends was able to decide on which restaurant to go.
In the incorrect example, the verb were is plural, which does not agree with the subject Mary nor her friends. In the correct version, the verb was is singular, which reflects the singular subject.
In conclusion, subject and verb agreement with neither nor is an essential grammatical concept in writing. The key takeaway is to ensure that the subject and verb agree in terms of number and person. By avoiding common mistakes and focusing on correct usage, writers can make their writing clear, concise, and grammatically impeccable.