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Do two persons combined with "and" give plural?





Peterssidan
I know that in English you end verbs in third person with s.
    He walks into the house.
    It feels so good!

My question is what do you do when talking about multiple persons combined with and?
    Tom and Jerry fight/fights a lot.
    A hen and a cow walk/walks down the street.

Another related question is if you should use is or are in these situations?
    Tom and Jerry is/are fighting.
    A hen and a cow is/are walking down the street.
Ankhanu
Peterssidan wrote:
I know that in English you end verbs in third person with s.
    He walks into the house.
    It feels so good!

S can also be used to denote present tense. For example, go first person with the same sentences:
    Jerry walks into the house.
    Music feels so good.

As always with English, our various rules generally apply to multiple forms of speech Wink

Peterssidan wrote:
My question is what do you do when talking about multiple persons combined with and?
    Tom and Jerry fight/fights a lot.
    A hen and a cow walk/walks down the street.

Generally, the subject in these cases are treated as a plural, and the s is not used on the verb; its use is awkward.

Peterssidan wrote:
Another related question is if you should use is or are in these situations?
    Tom and Jerry is/are fighting.
    A hen and a cow is/are walking down the street.

This is perfectly acceptable. Again, though, the subject is a plural unit; Tom and Jerry, a hen and a cow, these are each a single plural subject. With that in mind, are is used rather than is.
Peterssidan
Thank you. I guess that's what I expected, but I wasn't sure.

What happens if we use or instead of and?
    It is Tom or Jerry that is/are driving my car.
    Tom or Jerry drive/drives my car.

I think "Tom or Jerry" should be treated as singular but then what would happen if we have both singular and plural?
    It is Tom or his two sisters that is/are driving my car.
    Tom or his two sisters drive/drives my car.
Ankhanu
Peterssidan wrote:
Thank you. I guess that's what I expected, but I wasn't sure.

What happens if we use or instead of and?
    It is Tom or Jerry that is/are driving my car.
    Tom or Jerry drive/drives my car.

I think "Tom or Jerry" should be treated as singular but then what would happen if we have both singular and plural?
    It is Tom or his two sisters that is/are driving my car.
    Tom or his two sisters drive/drives my car.


In the first case it's still a singular, though a conditional is provided; e.g. Tom or Jerry drives the car.
The second case, I'm not entirely sure what's technically right; my gut is to use the one that feels less awkward for the context.
deanhills
I agree with Ankhanu. The first one is singular.

If it is singular after the "or", then the verb is singular. If plural then plural.

For the second example my gut instinct is:

It is Tom or his two sisters that [who are driving my car] is/are driving my car.

Tom or his two sisters [are driving] drive/drives my car.
[present continuous tense]
Peterssidan
Ankhanu wrote:
I'm not entirely sure what's technically right; my gut is to use the one that feels less awkward for the context.

But that's the problem with non-native English speakers like me. Sometimes the feeling can be misleading. It's nice to have rules to lean back on.

deanhills wrote:
If it is singular after the "or", then the verb is singular. If plural then plural.

This rule makes sense. It's like the a/an rule of letting whatever is closest decide.
SonLight
Peterssidan wrote:
Thank you. I guess that's what I expected, but I wasn't sure.

What happens if we use or instead of and?
    It is Tom or Jerry that is/are driving my car.
    Tom or Jerry drive/drives my car.

I think "Tom or Jerry" should be treated as singular but then what would happen if we have both singular and plural?
    It is Tom or his two sisters that is/are driving my car.
    Tom or his two sisters drive/drives my car.


Tom or Jerry _is_, Tom or Jerry _drives_. Both singular.
These seem a little awkward to me, I would tend to rewrite as "Either Tom or Jerry is driving my car" and "Either Tom or Jerry drives my car".

With both singular and plural parallel subjects, it feels a little ungrammatical either way and I would definitely prefer to rewrite. The rule I would follow, is to agree in number with the subject nearer the verb.
Thus, Tom or his two sisters drive (or are driving), but Tom's sisters or Joe drives (is driving).
Tom's sisters or Tom would be so awkward that I changed it to Joe.
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