In a technical book, I have stumbled upon the following sentence:

Here, resource-specification is a statement or statements that declares and initializes a resource.

I'm a bit confused about how the verbs declares and initializes are used here. Their form (third person singular) assumes that they are linked to a singular noun. But can statement or statements really be treated as some sort of a compound singular noun?

In other words, is everything correct with the example above, or one should modify it in some way to make it more grammatically consistent?


Weeellll, an argument could be made that the sentence should read like this:

Here, resource-specification is a statement or statements that declare and initialize a resource.

One noun is singular and the other is plural. In these cases, the verb should agree in number with the noun that is closest, e.g. statements (plural) not statement (singular).

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  • Thank you for your answer! But is it based on some hard and fast rules of grammar, or it's more of a native speaker's intuition? – Semisonic Mar 28 '15 at 11:35
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    It's a rule I've come across in multiple grammar guides. For example, see rule #13 on this website: grammar.yourdictionary.com/sentences/… – William Bloom Mar 28 '15 at 12:04
  • Welcome, Semisonic! Have a good day. :) – William Bloom Mar 28 '15 at 13:28

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