I am extremely weak at English grammar. I would like to ask the following sentence: 'To identify the contents of the crates or boxes, packing list will be prepared and attached outside the crates or boxes'.

My question are the following:

  1. Should it be 'crate or box' or 'crates or boxes', which is the original question.
  2. Regarding scope of 'or'. When I write 'To identify the contents of the' does this sentence apply both to 'crates' and 'boxes'. Or since 'crates' precedes 'boxes' does the sentence apply only to the 'crates'.
  3. When I wrote 'My question are the following', should it be 'My questions are the following'. Also would I be using the word 'following', if I am to mention only one question.

Please bear with me. My weak knowledge of English grammar does not allow me to actually categorize my question in an appropriate manner. Perhaps someone would kindly enlighten me on the faults with my sentences.

closed as off-topic by FumbleFingers, tchrist, Ronan, Chenmunka, Robusto Sep 13 '14 at 0:24

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Your query sentence would be improved by wording it as follows:

'To identify the contents of each crate or box, a packing list will be prepared for it and attached to its exterior'.

This eliminates all possibility of ambiguity.

To answer your original questions:

  1. Either wording is possible, but both occurrences of the phrase 'crate or box' / 'crates or boxes' must be the same as each other -- no mixing of plural and singular.

  2. 'Or' would apply to both crates and boxes.

  3. Apply logic here: 'My questions are {the following / as follows}' if there is more than one question, or 'My question is {the following / as follows}' if there is only one question.

  • What you stated in point 2 for 'or', does that apply to 'and' as well. Is this purely based on the context. – Stephen Jacob Sep 12 '14 at 2:34
  • @StephenJacob - It would apply to 'and' as well. Here, I think you could equally use either 'and' or 'or' without producing a significant difference in meaning. – Erik Kowal Sep 12 '14 at 2:36

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