Rule for subject verb agreement. My grammar book states that " If two subjects are joined by and then the verb comes in plural form" for instance" John and Matt are coming." But in another sentence I read " He and not his parents is plead guilty to obscenity charge." here the verb agrees with the subject former to 'and'. Is this an exception?


He and not his parents is plead guilty to obscenity charge is not grammatical; maybe it should be is to plead or has plead. Whatever the case, it should be obvious that there is a singular subject (he) that takes a singular verb. The sentence itself rules out another subject by saying and not - - - -. Therefore doesn't it make sense that the verb should be singular? The first sentence could be John and not Matt is coming. Note that John is the only one coming so the verb is singular.

  • Is "John and Matt are coming." grammatically wrong? my book says it correct one. – Boris Jul 31 '17 at 8:18
  • To see that the not sentence is singular, we can show it this way: He (and not his parents) is pleading" or "He, and not his parents, is pleading." – Yosef Baskin Jul 31 '17 at 12:30
  • @Boris John and Matt are coming is grammatical. John and not Matt is coming is grammatical. But not John and not Matt are coming. – AmE speaker Jul 31 '17 at 13:59

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