Get it correct

BY: Junior Graphic

We ended last week's discussion with five questions for you to determine how well you understand the discussion on subject/verb agreement.

Let's see how you fared in that short test to round off our discussions on that topic.

1. Neither the men nor I --- the power to drive that car.
a) has  b) have  c) is having  d) are having
The answer is (b) --- have --- because it is the first person pronoun I that must determine the verb.

2. The boy, his brother or I  --- a reward.
a) deserves  b) deserving c) deserve  d) is deserving
Here,  the answer is (c) --- deserve --- because it is the first person pronoun I that determines the verb.

3. Either he or the girls --- to be talked to.
a) need  b) needs  c) needing  d) is needing

The answer is (a) --- need --- because it is the plural noun girls that determines the verb.

Remember that this sentence can also be rendered as:

Either the girls or he needs to be talked to.

4. Neither your brother nor you --- my friend.
a) are  b) is  c) be  d) was

For this question, the answer is (a) --- are --- because it is the second person pronoun you that must determine the verb, and we say or write: you are, not you is or you was or you be.

Note that this sentence CANNOT be rendered as:

Neither you nor your brother is my friend.

Can you explain why it cannot be rendered that way?

5. Sam, Peter and Fiifi --- to do this work.
a) has  b) having  c) is  d) have

Here, the answer is (d) --- have --- because all the three people mentioned form the subject of the sentence, making it a plural subject which must agree with the plural verb --- have.

You would have noticed that there is no use of the expressions either ... or and neither ... nor for you to apply the Proximity Concord principle.

You would also have noticed that the conjunction and is used to join the names Sam, Peter and Fiifi to make them plural.

As we have said many times before, and is the only conjunction that can join two or more nouns to form a plural subject, as in:
the boy and the girl
his friend and his brother
a book and a bag
wealth and arrogance
a minister and a parliamentarian
The following expressions are not plural:
a boy, as well as a man
His brother, together with his friends
the man, accompanied by his wife
my mum, like my dad
I hope you did well in the test.