Would you say:

There is no fire or hot ashes in the fireplace.


There are no fire or hot ashes in the fireplace.

And where does that question mark go?

marked as duplicate by tchrist, Edwin Ashworth, RegDwigнt Aug 12 '15 at 8:45

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  • 1
    Use neither and nor. "There is neither A nor B" is the construction used when you want to say that both A and B aren't there. – Tlacenka Aug 11 '15 at 18:57
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it has a definitive answer at the thread tchrist points to. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 11 '15 at 19:50
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    Wrt the question-mark-after a choice of sentences, you either rephrase, or risk the good-style-is-as-important-as-grammar police and put it where it seems logical: after the second period (and here on a new line after the second blockquote). – Edwin Ashworth Aug 11 '15 at 19:55
  • What question mark? – Brian Hitchcock Aug 12 '15 at 8:27

"There's no fire or hot ashes in the fireplace."

Neither "is" nor "are" sounds right. With "there's", you avoid the issue, since many accept that with a plural subject.

Another possibility is:

There is no fire, or hot ashes either, in the fireplace.

This avoids the problem, because the main verb does not agree with something within a parenthetical expression or aside.

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