I was looking at a writing test and came upon the following phrase:

"A candidate must earn a bachelor's degree in nursing and pass a licensing exam to become a registered nurse (RN), and then he or she spend at least one year working in an acute care setting.

Shouldn't it be "...,and then he or she must spend at least one"

The second part seems grammatically incorrect (as well as sounds incorrect) without the parallel "must". If this is correct, I still feel that this is more of an exception rather than a rule. Can someone clarify?

Thank you.

  • 3
    I agree with you. Either: "and then he or she must spend at least..." OR "and then spend at least..."
    – Jim
    Sep 20, 2016 at 3:41
  • 'He or she' is singular since it refers to one candidate, but 'spend' is not the third person singular of 'to spend' so the sentence is grammatically incorrect as it stands. Inserting 'must' corrects the grammar but leaves the sentence over-long and clumsy. Omitting 'he or she' or replacing 'he or she' with 'must' gives a much more elegant sentence with no loss of clarity. I think this is an example of an error which has not been picked up.
    – BoldBen
    Sep 20, 2016 at 7:59

1 Answer 1


The problem with the OP phrase is this -

"A candidate must earn ... and then he or she spend ..."

This can be solved simply three ways (the third option gets my vote).

  1. "A candidate must earn ... and then spend ...

  2. "A candidate must earn ... and then he or she must spend ...

  3. "A candidate must earn ... . (As a qualified RN) The candidate must then spend ...

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