Grammar Question about Singular and Plural Subjects and Verb "To Be"

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  1. eugbug profile image97
    eugbugposted 12 months ago

    If I'm talking/writing about a mixture of singular and plural objects, do I use "is " or "are" ?
    For instance is it "Cats or dogs or an elephant is in the room" or "Cats or dogs or an elephant are in the room" or neither? Is the subject the collection and because there are more than one items, plural, irrespective of whether the individual items are singular or plural?

    1. chef-de-jour profile image97
      chef-de-jourposted 12 months agoin reply to this

      If you and I is in the room that sounds all wrong.
      If they, you and I is in the room...that's wrong too, grammatically wrong.
      Likewise if cats, you and I is in the room that's wrong.

      So I'd use the plural cos they're all grouped together.

      Cats or dogs or an elephant are in the room.

      And if you can't tell the difference between a cat, a dog and an elephant Eugene......

      1. eugbug profile image97
        eugbugposted 12 months agoin reply to this

        LOL, it's a bit of a contrivance but it's the first thing that came into my head. The collections are usually more mundane.

    2. bravewarrior profile image91
      bravewarriorposted 11 months agoin reply to this

      eubug, the way to test the proper usage is to break the sentence down. Cats are in the room. Obviously, cats is in the room is not only grammatically incorrect, but awkward. Do the same with each noun/subject and you'll have your answer.

      You may want to check out an article I wrote addressing this and a few other grammar issues:
      https://hubpages.com/literature/Element … ur-Grammar

      I hope this helps!

    3. MizBejabbers profile image89
      MizBejabbersposted 11 months agoin reply to this

      I am a former legal editor of 30 years, and we would not allow this sentence to be used as is. We would rewrite the sentence something like this: "Each room contained either cats or dogs or an elephant."
      And I might add that is still pushing it a little. In our editing we probably would have to be more specific. In this case, perhaps we were discussing an animal reserve, so we would describe the house as having separate rooms for the animals. Thus we would say that each room would be set up for multiple cats or dogs or for one elephant.
      My explanation may be a little overblown, but I think you get the picture.

  2. profile image0
    Marisa Writesposted 12 months ago

    To be honest, I'd try to rephrase the sentence so it's all either plural or singular.

    1. bravewarrior profile image91
      bravewarriorposted 11 months agoin reply to this

      Absolutely!

  3. Eric Caunca profile image94
    Eric Cauncaposted 12 months ago

    If you use or/nor the last word of the subject will tell you if you will use plural or singular. Since "an elephant" is your last word that will be singular.

    1. bravewarrior profile image91
      bravewarriorposted 11 months agoin reply to this

      Sorry, Eric, but that's incorrect. See my response above.

  4. bhattuc profile image79
    bhattucposted 12 months ago

    We also use like that what Eric has told. I do not know whether it is a rule as per the grammar books.

  5. CYong74 profile image95
    CYong74posted 12 months ago

    I agree with Marisa. I would rephrase. Split it into 2 sentences.

  6. theraggededge profile image95
    theraggededgeposted 12 months ago

    It's an awful sentence, both to write and read.

    The room might contain cats, dogs, or even an elephant.

  7. Eric Caunca profile image94
    Eric Cauncaposted 12 months ago

    This is from a grammar book.
    https://hubstatic.com/15256968_f1024.jpg

    1. eugbug profile image97
      eugbugposted 12 months agoin reply to this

      Hmm, that's different to CDJ's logic and "is" is correct?

      1. theraggededge profile image95
        theraggededgeposted 12 months agoin reply to this

        That's a helpful example... and the second version reads more fluently.

        An elephant or cats or dogs are in the room.

        It's very Shrodinger smile We won't know until we open the door.

      2. Eric Caunca profile image94
        Eric Cauncaposted 12 months agoin reply to this

        "You and I", is joined by "and".
        "You or I" is joined by "or".
        If the words are combined by "and" it means both or all of them.
        If the words are combined by "or" it means either of them.
        His first sentence "You and I is in the room" is wrong but if the sentence is "You or I is in the room", it's correct.

        1. eugbug profile image97
          eugbugposted 12 months agoin reply to this

          But "You or I is in the room" sounds incorrect. I would say "If you or I are in the room".

          Maybe there are exceptions to the rule under certain circumstances?

          1. Miebakagh57 profile image61
            Miebakagh57posted 12 months agoin reply to this

            It is neither You or I that is in the room.                                                 Does the sentence sounds correct?                                              When I was in the university, our ethnic culture professor was not seen to lecture for 3 days.                                                                               Two days later he appeared. "Where were you?" is the question the class post to him. I doubt if the sentence with the 'were' instead of are is correct?

          2. eugbug profile image97
            eugbugposted 12 months agoin reply to this

            To complicate things should it be "If I or your are in the room" and not "If you or I are in the room"?

            1. Miebakagh57 profile image61
              Miebakagh57posted 12 months agoin reply to this

              In a formal sentence, "I and you" is most acceptable.

              1. eugbug profile image97
                eugbugposted 12 months agoin reply to this

                But that would be both people. I'm just thinking of binary logic where "or" and "and" mean two different things. So "you or I" could be a possible scenario. So e.g. "If your or I are in the room we can lock the cabinet" meaning either of us can do it.

                1. Marketing Merit profile image95
                  Marketing Meritposted 12 months agoin reply to this

                  I think Eric’s grammar book provides the answers, but there are different rules.
                  Adopt plural for ‘and’ 
                  Matching subject/verb agreement for the last subject, when using ‘or.’- This seems a little illogical to me, especially when using I in a sentence. I think I automatically adjust the wording to accord with what seems correct.

                  Following the grammar rules, it would be as follows:

                  If you and I are in the room....

                  If you or I am in the room....

                  If I or you are in the room....

                  1. MizBejabbers profile image89
                    MizBejabbersposted 11 months agoin reply to this

                    Never use "I" first. I checked online grammar programs in case the rules have changed and in no case can I find a case of using "I" first.

                  2. lobobrandon profile image89
                    lobobrandonposted 11 months agoin reply to this

                    Isn't it also a grammar rule that "I" would come at the end, so option three is a no-go? Maybe it is not really a rule but just something that is accepted as being polite?

              2. theraggededge profile image95
                theraggededgeposted 12 months agoin reply to this

                No... it's always 'You and I."

                1. Miebakagh57 profile image61
                  Miebakagh57posted 12 months agoin reply to this

                  Okay, does "you and me" sounds right?

                  1. Eric Caunca profile image94
                    Eric Cauncaposted 12 months agoin reply to this

                    Use the phrase "you and I" if it is the subject of the sentence, and use "you and me", if it is the object of the sentence. "You and I" is usually located a the beginning of the sentence while "you and me" is in the middle or end of the sentence.

                    e.g.
                    You and I are friends.
                    You and I join the contest.
                    The prize win by you and me.

                  2. eugbug profile image97
                    eugbugposted 12 months agoin reply to this

                    No, "you and I" is the correct expression and definitely not "me and you". I used to get my grammar corrected as a child by my mother smile However I do say "me and you" now. Grammar doesn't have to be perfect, at least when speaking, but some expressions do sound really bad, e.g. "I seen" rather than "I saw".

                  3. theraggededge profile image95
                    theraggededgeposted 12 months agoin reply to this

                    It depends on whether it is the subject or the object of the sentence. If the subject, then 'I'; if the object, then 'me'.

                    You and I will go shopping.

                    The cold weather affects you and me.

                2. bravewarrior profile image91
                  bravewarriorposted 11 months agoin reply to this

                  Not necessarily true, raggededge. You, my brother and I went to the store. When we got there my brother bought ice cream cones for you and me. He didn't buy an ice cream cone for I. That just doesn't make sense. It depends on what purpose the pronouns serve in the sentence - subject or object.

                  1. theraggededge profile image95
                    theraggededgeposted 11 months agoin reply to this

                    I meant, when using 'You and I', it is never 'I and you'. It was in reply to Miebakagh's post.

                    Of course it's not applicable when the the first person pronoun is the object of a sentence.

                    And in your example, the natural word is 'us' smile

              3. MizBejabbers profile image89
                MizBejabbersposted 11 months agoin reply to this

                I was taught that it was rude English not to put the other person first when you are using "you and/or I" or a proper noun and I like "Jim and I". In formal writing you would definitely say "the teacher and I" not "I and the teacher"

                1. Miebakagh57 profile image61
                  Miebakagh57posted 11 months agoin reply to this

                  I agree with you.                                              But have you notice the teacher no matter your age is elder? Out of respect, courtesy, and formality we say: "The teach and I."                                                               Natural English will tell you that is also applicable to any of your elders. When it comes to your juniors, it's a different thing-. "I and you." But it is had for me to find out what the grammar books said about this later part as touching the juniors...I mean a cmfirmation.                                                         "I and my little girl will visit the Greens tomorrow."

        2. Marketing Merit profile image95
          Marketing Meritposted 12 months agoin reply to this

          I agree with Eugbug, this isn’t correct Eric.  Subject/verb agreement isn't met in either scenario. It’s either:
          ‘You are in the room’ or ‘I am in the room.’ ‘Is’ doesn’t belong in the example given. I tend to look at the subject(s) as a whole, as CdJ indicated. More than one, so would use ‘are’ which also accords with, ‘we are in the room.’

        3. bravewarrior profile image91
          bravewarriorposted 11 months agoin reply to this

          You are in the room. I am in the room. Is does not come into play at all.

    2. MizBejabbers profile image89
      MizBejabbersposted 11 months agoin reply to this

      That is correct according to Harbrace Handbook, which is one of the references that we used, but their example is something one would use in everyday language. I still wouldn't use your example. If I needed that exact example I would rewrite it.

  8. Eric Caunca profile image94
    Eric Cauncaposted 12 months ago

    I'm sorry about my "You or I is in the room" sentence. I have noticed it. My internet got slower so I couldn't edit it. Sorry to my late reply. I know it's wrong. "You and I" have confused us. Let's change the "you and I" into "a dog or a cat, they are both singular. Now, it is "A dog or a cat is in the room". It becomes correct, doesn't it?

    1. eugbug profile image97
      eugbugposted 12 months agoin reply to this

      Sorry, I was incorrect. Since "I" is a first person singular pronoun, I should have used "am", not is. So "If you or I am in the room...." according to the rule as Marketing Merit suggests, but "If you and I are in the room...." sounds better.

      1. Eric Caunca profile image94
        Eric Cauncaposted 12 months agoin reply to this

        I think the answer is what's in the book. I didn't buy that from somewhere. It is from the Department of Education. It was checked multiple times by different people before given to the teachers. I am a teacher by the way.

    2. MizBejabbers profile image89
      MizBejabbersposted 11 months agoin reply to this

      Yes, a dog or a cat is in the room.

      1. Miebakagh57 profile image61
        Miebakagh57posted 11 months agoin reply to this

        Yes, it make complete sense when the sentence is split or separate. A dog is in the soom/A cat is in the room. What else?

        1. eugbug profile image97
          eugbugposted 11 months agoin reply to this

          Don't forget the elephant.

          1. Miebakagh57 profile image61
            Miebakagh57posted 11 months agoin reply to this

            Heck, I was specific commenting on Mizbejabbers' latest post. Yea, she didn't mention the elephant in that comment which you thoughi I forgot.                                                   Okay, the/an elephant is in the room which sounds unnatural, akward, and weird. The elephant is in the zoo.

  9. Eric Caunca profile image94
    Eric Cauncaposted 12 months ago

    English has lots of rules. It easy for you to study it because English and other languages in Europe are correlated. :-) :-) :-) Unlike me, I'm an Asian. English and Asian languages have very different grammar rules, sentence structures, and terms. :-( :-( :-(

    1. eugbug profile image97
      eugbugposted 11 months agoin reply to this

      Well your proficiency in English is better than mine in any language I learned smile Having a good memory helps. I could never remember all the different tenses of verbs, phrases, vocabulary etc.

      1. chef-de-jour profile image97
        chef-de-jourposted 11 months agoin reply to this

        Eugene, with your cats or dogs or elephant in the comment capsule you set the cat among the pigeons and got a whole host of folks thinking grammatically, inside the box and out, from Schrodinger to Uncle Tom Cobbley and all, until along came Education (thanks Eric) to finally point out the elephant in the room, which may or not have been there in the first place, according to which school of thought you follow, be it conventional, regulatory or cultural, the end result could mean that the difference between and and or or or and and is as wide as the seas are deep .....

        1. eugbug profile image97
          eugbugposted 11 months agoin reply to this

          smile Something tells me I have too much time to think

        2. lobobrandon profile image89
          lobobrandonposted 11 months agoin reply to this

          This made the thread worth the read.

          1. Miebakagh57 profile image61
            Miebakagh57posted 11 months agoin reply to this

            It's more than that. The readers were taking a mock test! Exam coming next week?

          2. MizBejabbers profile image89
            MizBejabbersposted 11 months agoin reply to this

            I agree with you, Lobo. I realize I went to elementary school in the Dark Ages, but my teacher would have marked as incorrect any sentence that said "I and you" or "me and you". I have not been able to find in any online grammar book that it is correct to put I or me first. Neither the Chicago Manual of Style or Harbrace Handbook (which I use for references) show it to be correct. I think it is a new thing started by young people who didn't listen to their English teachers.

  10. Eric Caunca profile image94
    Eric Cauncaposted 11 months ago

    My country ranks the highest score in English proficiency in Asia, number one in the world's business English proficiency, and 70% of the population are trilingual and in the future, a large percentage of the population could be quadrilingual because the government has plans to teach Spanish in schools. I don't know who invented English, but if I would have a chance to go back to the past, I will tape his mouth. :-) :-) :-)

    1. theraggededge profile image95
      theraggededgeposted 11 months agoin reply to this

      Ha ha ha! big_smile

      You should listen to Welsh. This is the name of a railway station in North Wales: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch

      I can say that smile

      Present day Welsh is the descendent of the original language spoken across Britain. So be happy you had to learn English and not a bunch of wet consonants and pesky mutations.

      English is a mix up of Anglo Frisian/Saxon, Latin, and a whole host of other languages.

    2. Rupert Taylor profile image96
      Rupert Taylorposted 11 months ago

      Me think this getting out of hand. Time for a calming beverage; perhaps one of the fruitier Welsh Chardonnays.

      1. theraggededge profile image95
        theraggededgeposted 11 months agoin reply to this

        Absolutely. This one is about five miles from where I live...

        https://llanerch.co.uk/vineyard

    3. Eric Caunca profile image94
      Eric Cauncaposted 11 months ago

      I hope this one will help us.
      https://hubstatic.com/15258978.jpg


      https://hubstatic.com/15258979.jpg


      https://hubstatic.com/15258981.jpg


      https://hubstatic.com/15258982.jpg


      https://hubstatic.com/15258983.jpg


      https://hubstatic.com/15258985.jpg


      https://hubstatic.com/15258986.jpg



      https://hubstatic.com/15258988.jpg

      1. Miebakagh57 profile image61
        Miebakagh57posted 11 months agoin reply to this

        I need an online link.

      2. Miebakagh57 profile image61
        Miebakagh57posted 11 months agoin reply to this

        Yes, it does.

    4. Eric Caunca profile image94
      Eric Cauncaposted 11 months ago

      This one is from engglishgrammar.org

      https://hubstatic.com/15259337.jpg


      https://hubstatic.com/15259338.jpg

    5. Rupert Taylor profile image96
      Rupert Taylorposted 11 months ago

      Ah! Love all those Latin-derived words such as bungalow, kindergarten, and rutabaga.

      1. theraggededge profile image95
        theraggededgeposted 11 months agoin reply to this

        Ah... villa, infant school, and brassica napus smile

        1. Miebakagh57 profile image61
          Miebakagh57posted 11 months agoin reply to this

          Bingo- annual, ejaculate, coitus, penile...ad in finitum.

     
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