Agreement: Subjects with And, Or, or Nor

May 21, 2021

As you saw in Module 3, Lesson 1, a sentence is like a car, with a noun or pronoun as the driver (the subject) and a verb as the engine.

Subjects and verbs must agree with each other in number—if the subject is singular, the verb will be singular, and if the subject is plural, the verb will be plural.

Sounds easy, right? But sometimes it’s hard to decide which type of verb to use.

One challenge you’ll encounter is when two nouns or pronouns are connected by the word and. Sometimes you’ll need a plural verb, but other times you’ll need a singular verb. Hint:If you need more help with subjects, complete Lesson 1 in Sentence Parts before continuing with this lesson.

Use Plural Verbs for Compound Subjects

Some sentences have two or more subjects joined by the word and. This is called a compound subject, and it always requires a plural verb.

My mother and father both come home from work at the same time.
Red, orange, and blue are my favorite colors.

Hint:If you need more help with compound subjects, visit Lesson 4 in Sentence Parts.

Use a Singular Verb When And Joins Two Nouns That Make One Object

When and joins two nouns to make a single object, use a singular verb.

Macaroni and cheese is my favorite food.

It’s not that macaroni is one of my favorites and cheese is my other. Macaroni and cheese is the name of a single dish.

Subjects Joined by Or or Nor

If two subjects are joined by or or nor, you match the verb to the last subject in the list.

My parents or my sister is in the kitchen.
My sister or my parents are in the kitchen.
Neither my parents nor my sister is in the kitchen.