The following statements makes sense

It is impossible to doubt that you exist.

It is impossible to doubt that your mind exists.

However, if I were to add parentheses to the first statement which contain the information in the second, it becomes unclear as to which form of exist I should use.

It is impossible to doubt that you (or your mind) exist/exists.

Similarly and more confusingly:

You (or he) jump/jumps.

  • 4
    We use parenthesis because it is not absolutely required in a sentence. The verb should agree with the subject outside it.
    – user140086
    Feb 25, 2016 at 5:11
  • @Rathony I'd up-vote that in an answer. Here's a sample link you can use for reference.
    – Lawrence
    Feb 25, 2016 at 10:13
  • @Lawrence Thanks for your comment. I don't think this question belongs on ELU even though I didn't close-vote it.
    – user140086
    Feb 25, 2016 at 10:23
  • I agree with Rathony. The verb should agree either with the subject outside the parenthesis, or (if you omit the brackets but leave the words within them) with the subject nearer the verb. My other comment would be simply that one should avoid writing a sentence in such a way that this issue arises, e.g. "It is impossible to doubt either that you exist or that your mind exists." This is a 'non-problem' - construct the sentence better!
    – TrevorD
    Mar 2, 2016 at 0:55
  • 1


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.