In the sentence below, should the bolded word be prepare or prepares?

When my family eats at home, my mom or I prepares the meal.

Normally, I would side with the verb agreeing with its corresponding noun in the sentence. However, since this is an exclusive or, where it's either my mom or I doing the preparation, that means that it would be my mom prepares or I prepare.

I'd like to avoid writing it like the sentence below, as it just sounds a bit awkward.

When my family eats at home, one of either my mom or me prepares the meal.

I was unable to find any existing questions that covered my scenario exactly. Most deal with (person) and I or the order of the two verbs in the sentence.

How can I write this using the my mom or I syntax?


The bolded word should be prepare.

When my family eats at home, my mom or I prepare the meal.

The rule is: If a compound subject contains or or nor, the verb should agree with the part of the subject that is nearer the verb.

  • 1
    Can you cite a reference that supports this rule? – sumelic Dec 2 '16 at 9:52
  • There are many grammar references out there; here's one: grammarbook.com/grammar/subjectVerbAgree.asp – andi Dec 3 '16 at 18:58
  • I think it might be useful to give a caveat, as that source does: "This rule can lead to bumps in the road. For example, if I is one of two (or more) subjects, it could lead to this odd sentence: Awkward: Neither she, my friends, nor I am going to the festival. If possible, it's best to reword such grammatically correct but awkward sentences." – sumelic Dec 3 '16 at 19:00
  • eh, I don't think that sentence is so awkward, depending on where it's used. But I didn't want to get into personal preference and style here; I just wanted to give the actual rule. – andi Dec 3 '16 at 19:02

Interesting. I think I would get round it by writing "my mom prepares the meal or I do".


"When my family eats at home, either my mom or I prepares the meal." The prepare is correct, add either instead.

  • 3
    But then you have "I prepares," which looks like an incorrect verb agreement with "I". – sumelic Dec 1 '16 at 23:11
  • Instead of 'I prepares', it should look like 'either my mom or I" and 'prepares the meal' – DdTnT Dec 1 '16 at 23:23

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.