Which of the following statements is correctly conjugated? Is there a rule or explanation for conjugating verbs with and/or subjects?

The X and/or Y is true.


The X and/or Y are true.

Does the plurality of X and Y matter?


Actually, it doesn't matter one darn bit if the subjects joined by "and" are singular or plural.

- Rule 1: Subjects joined by "and" will always be plural.

is = singular verb |||| are = plural verb

Tom and I are awesome. (plural)

Those girls and I are awesome. (plural)

Those girls and boys are awesome. (plural)

- Rule 2: For subjects joined by "or" or "nor", you look at the subject closest to the verb.

is = singular verb |||| are = plural verb

Either those girls or Tom is awesome. ('Tom' is closest to the verb, so we use a singular verb.)

Either Tom or those girls are awesome. ('Girls' is closest to the verb, so we use a plural verb.)

Edit: To accommodate JanusBahsJacquet's interpretation of this question, I will also answer his question.

When using and/or or or/and, you use the latest conjunction in time.

In the case of "and/or", we would use "or":

Angie and/or Tom is going to pay for this. (We use the singular "is" and not the plural "are" because we are applying the "or" rule.)

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    Neither of these rules is quite correct. First, sentences like "Drinking and driving is a serious problem" are quite common. Second, different speakers resolve number conflicts in disjunctive subjects different ways; see languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=1293 for some discussion. – snailplane May 1 '14 at 0:03
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    @snailboat Actually, both of my rules are impeccable. =d Please refer to the University of Wisconsin's website! writing.wisc.edu/Handbook/SubjectVerb.html (Giggle! Links are fun!) As to why your example is singular, it is singular because "drinking and driving" are little things called "gerunds" which are being joined to form a single gerund phrase for meaning--"drinking and driving" (and a gerund phrase is ALWAYS singular). To apply the rule, actually use a compound subject as I stated: "Drinking too much and driving too fast ARE serious problems." I SAY, "GOOD DAY, SIR!" – Apple Freejeans May 1 '14 at 0:22
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    This does not answer the question. The question is specifically about what number to choose when the subjects are coordinated with “and/or”, rather than “and” or “or” on their own. – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 1 '14 at 0:42
  • @JanusBahsJacquet I would say you misinterpreted the question since the author of this post accepted my answer as satisfying his question. Further, I contradicted snailboat in his reference to my answer, not a misinterpretation of my answer. – Apple Freejeans May 1 '14 at 0:43
  • @JanusBahsJacquet By the way, in answer to your interpretation of his question, you would use the latest in time--"or". Since we would define it using "or", we would follow the "or" rule. "Annie and/or Tom is going to pay." (not are) – Apple Freejeans May 1 '14 at 0:44

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