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In a list of singular items with an "or" should the verb be singular or plural? e.g.

Sometimes the fence, the wall, or the ditch (was/were) destroyed.

marked as duplicate by RegDwigнt Oct 16 '13 at 15:22

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    use the singular inflection. – jlovegren Oct 16 '13 at 14:28
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    This feels like a duplicate... – mplungjan Oct 16 '13 at 14:29
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    If you really mean "the fence OR the wall OR the ditch (only one of them) was destroyed", then use the singular. If you mean "the fence AND/OR the wall AND/OR the ditch (1, 2 or all 3 of them) were destroyed", use the plural or - preferably - rewrite the sentence. – TrevorD Oct 16 '13 at 15:03
  • I would suggest that English Language Learners would be more suitable for this question. – TrevorD Oct 16 '13 at 15:04
  • @TrevorD Your first formulations seems at best awkward. But I like your second one. – tchrist Oct 16 '13 at 18:34