A Compound Subject is made up of two or more subjects that are connected by and, or, nor, either..or, neither..nor. Two factors determine the form of the verb that agrees in number with a compound subject: (1) which conjunction is used in the subject, and (2) whether the words in the compound subject are singular or plural.
- The brothers and the sisters are all wonderful.
- Justin and his friend take evening classes.
- The president and chairman is the man who established the company. ( This sentence tells us that the man is both the president and the chairman of the company; therefore we use 'is' since it refers to a one person only).
- At one time bread and water was a common menu for any prisoner of war. (The phrase 'bread and water' tells us of a 1 unit; therefore we use 'was').
- Justin or his girlfriend sleeps every afternoon after lunch.
- Neither the student nor the teacher always gives a very good opinion.
- My brothers or your sisters sing that song all the time.
- Neither the brothers nor the sisters have apologized.
- Neither my mother nor my aunts like to drive the car to work. (Since the plural subject 'aunts' is nearer to the verb 'like'; therefore we use the plural form of 'like').
- A teacher or 10 students were relocated to those places. (Since the plural subject '10 students' is nearer to the verb 'be''; therefore we use the plural form of 'be').
[Review: Is, are, was, were are called be-verbs. They can also be called as linking verbs.]
Choose the appropriate verb in the following sentences:
1.) His humor and curiosity (fill, fills) my days with smiles.
2.) Neither the children or Mrs. Smith (was, were) on the bus.
3.) Justin, Jesse, or Jay (do, does) the work every night.
4.) Either my parents or my older sister (plan, plans) to meet you tomorrow.
5.) Time and tide (is, are) of no importance.
6.) Either the principal or the teachers (is, are) planning to attend the conference.
7.) Justin could not remember whether the novel The Godfather or the the 3 Godfather movies (was, were) more violent.
8.) Cheese and crackers (is, are) Justin's favorite snack.
~end of lesson~