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Nobody from the Police Department and nobody from the Fire Department is/are going to the rescue.

Which verb agreement is grammatical or preferable for other reasons?

Similar examples:

  • Everyone that you know and everyone that you don't know is/are going to be there.
  • Anything you read and anything you hear affects/affect you.

I have read that if parts of a compound subject are joined together by the conjunction and, then one should use a plural verb. But in these examples with indefinite pronouns, I feel like a singular verb should be used.

Another rule on verb agreement with compound subjects: When using or, either/or, or neither/nor, the compound subject might be singular or plural. Generally, if all elements are singular, then the compound subject should be treated as singular.

But again it doesn't cover use of indefinite pronouns with and.

marked as duplicate by sumelic, Bread, J. Taylor, Nigel J, David May 21 '18 at 12:25

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • 2
    The copula question is a bit of a red herring, because no one would actually say "Nobody from the PD and nobody from the FD.." anyway. We'd say or (and then we'd use is). – Dan Bron Jul 29 '15 at 10:40
  • @Dan What made me ask this question is the following actual sentence I've run into on www.grammar-monster.com. "Nobody behind the till and nobody in the store saw the seagull stealing the crisps." Because the sentence uses a verb in the past tense, it's not clear if a compound subject composed of two indefinite pronouns with their modifiers should be treated as singular or plural. Perhaps I invented a bad example of this construction, but you can see that this construction is used and, moreover, is used by a popular online resource explaining grammar. – Siegfried Zaytsev Jul 29 '15 at 11:14
  • That is a different scenario (though I'll fess up that I'm at a loss to articulate why). Perhaps it would be best if you changed your question to ask about the seagull instead of the rescue? – Dan Bron Jul 29 '15 at 11:16
  • I'm starting to formulate a theory about the difference between the Police Dept example and the seagull example: it boils down to the preposition from. If you said "nobody from the till-minders and nobody from the store, it would sound just as wrong as the PD/FD example. I think it's because the people behind the til and the people in the store are full sets. It's not possible to have someone behind the til who was not present, where's PDs are large and it's possible to have someone from be PD not be present even if some police were present. – Dan Bron Jul 29 '15 at 11:24
  • Same reasoning applies to your anyone you know and anyone you don't know example. That's unidiomatic, but if you change it to everyone you know and everyone you don't know or someone you know and someone you don't know, it's perfectly fine and common. – Dan Bron Jul 29 '15 at 11:25
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If you multiply zero by two you get zero. If you multiply nobody by two you still get nobody.

Therefore the answer is:

Nobody from the Police Department and nobody from the Fire Department is going to the rescue.

If you doubt that, consider the following.

Two nobodies are going to the rescue, one from the Police Department and one from the Fire Department.

Now that is possible but it has an entirely different, and very sarcastic, meaning!

EDIT in response to comment

"Everybody from the Police Department and everybody from the Fire Department is/are going to the rescue"?

Let us define 'everybody' to mean 'each individual person'. I think you can see that the singular is still required.

"Each individual person from the Police Department and each individual from the Fire Department is going to the rescue"? (correct)

"Each individual person from the Police Department and each individual from the Fire Department are going to the rescue"? (incorrect)

  • What if I say "Everybody from the Police Department and everybody from the Fire Department is/are going to the rescue"? – Siegfried Zaytsev Jul 29 '15 at 12:08
  • Still "is". Think of it like this: Everybody in the { {Police Department} UNION {Fire Department} } or as predicate-ellipsis: Everybody in the Police Department [is going] and everybody in the Fire Department is going.... – TRomano Jul 29 '15 at 12:54
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I agree with chasly from UK's answer saying that singular agreement would be used with a subject like this.

I would compare this to examples like "each X and each Y". We can find sources that say that these take singular agreement, unlike other types of compound subjects: see the answers to Why is "each row and each column" followed by a singular verb in this sentence? and Verbs after Compound Subjects [Everything... and Everyone...].

In fact, SovereignSun's answer to the second question specifically mentions the sentence "Nobody in my house and nobody on my street has been robbed" (citing Ann Batko, When Bad Grammar Happens to Good People. Career Press, 2004).

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