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I know that "either" is singular as is "neither". But I've seen it used as a plural pronoun. Take this sentence for example:

It's the only chance either of us have of getting home.

Is this usage informal? If it is, then I think the above sentence should be re-written like this:

It's the only chance either of us has of getting home.

Am I correct?

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    No, either and neither are not automatically singular or plural. “Either the Yankees or the Dodgers are going to win this year for sure.” The verb agrees with the closer subject in disjunction. – tchrist Oct 27 '13 at 2:06
  • The answer slipped under my nose: When used as a pronoun, either is singular and takes a singular verb: The two left-wing parties disagree with each other more than either does (not do) with the Right. When followed by of and a plural noun, either is often used with a plural verb: Either of the parties have enough support to form a government. But this usage is widely regarded as incorrect; in an earlier survey it was rejected by 92 percent of the Usage Panel. Though it does say it is incorrect... – Jose Oct 27 '13 at 2:11
  • “Either birds or cows cause the most damage.” Surely nobody would dare use *causes there. – tchrist Oct 27 '13 at 3:30
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As tchrist answered in a comment:

No, either and neither are not automatically singular or plural. “Either the Yankees or the Dodgers are going to win this year for sure.” The verb agrees with the closer subject in disjunction.

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"Either A or B has....". The "Either" designates one or the other of "A or B", so it takes a singular verb: "has". It's also true for "Neither A nor B is ...."

"Has" is this case is 3rd person singular: "He has..."

Singular: "I have a chance"; "You have a chance"; "He has a chance".

Plurals: "We have a chance"; "You [all] have a chance"; "They have a chance".

That's a tricky construction. Perhaps someone can give a more precise explanation.

  • No, B is plural, it takes the plural. – tchrist Oct 27 '13 at 14:59

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