I was struck by PM Johnson's 'neither he nor I are' a few days ago, which seemed to me obviously ungrammatic, and searched this site, where I found this:

Controversy over verb choice in "neither you nor I {is/am/are} in control"

where the answer claims that 'neither you nor I is' is 'of course .. totally wrong,' and that it would have to be 'neither you nor I am,' since the verb is closer to 'I' than to 'you.'

I am unconvinced. What are some authoritative sources on this issue? And is there really no authority, grammatic or literary, in support of 'neither you nor I is'?

My sense is that it must be 'neither you nor I is' and 'neither he nor I is.' It seems to me that, regardless of what the pronoun closest to the verb is, the third person ''wins'' when there is conflict, even when the contestants are the 2nd & 1st persons.

(As regards the number of the verb, it seems to me that it must be singular, seeing as what is being denied is a statement about a singular thing, namely that (at least) one of two is something.)

NOTE that my bold-faced question has been implied but neither focused nor answered in the other post.

  • Possible duplicate of english.stackexchange.com/questions/1144/…
    – JRodge01
    Sep 27 '19 at 12:48
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    There is alternation between singular and plural verb agreement, though singular agreement is usual. Plural agreement is informal and condemned by the prescritivists. One reason is that "neither" can only function as determiner to singular nouns: "Neither objection was valid" is grammatical, but *"Neither objections were valid" is definitely not.
    – BillJ
    Sep 27 '19 at 12:50
  • Have a look at the link in the accepted answer to the question you referenced.
    – Lawrence
    Sep 27 '19 at 12:50
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    Do you say am't I, isn't I or aren't I? You say aren't I, of course, even though I isn't plural. Similarly for neither he nor I are wrong. Sep 27 '19 at 13:20
  • @PeterShor, I may think a bit much of myself, but I would never dream of saying aren't I. There's nothing in the way of saying am I not. And I don't think the two phenomona have similar causes.
    – Toothrot
    Sep 27 '19 at 13:25