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“Neither Michael nor Albert is correct” or “Neither Michael nor Albert are correct”?
Is “either you or [third-person]” followed by a singular verb or a plural verb?

If a noun phrase is made of two noun-like words that conjugate differently, then which conjugation do you use?


1) He nor I has...
2) He nor I have...

"He" and "I" are connected with a conjunction. Between 1 and 2 which is correct? Are they both correct? Is neither correct?


In constructions such as "He nor I ..." second pronoun determines the rest. E.g:

Neither Ayse nor I am old.

The Verb should agree with the nearest subject pronoun. So, He nor I have ..." is accepted as correct. But it may not sound natural or acceptable. I would use "neither of us has ..."

Please check purdue.edu and Towson.edu

  • Note: AKA proximity agreement Jan 22 '12 at 8:37

Both alternatives might be found, but both present problems. The advice of ‘The Cambridge Guide to English Usage’ in such cases is to rewrite the sentence in which the words occur. If, for example, you were faced with a choice between ‘Neither he nor I has ever been there’ and ‘Neither he nor I have ever been there’, it would be a simple matter to write the sentence as ‘He has never been there and neither have I.’

Here's the relevant extract:

Further options arise when the coordinates present a mixture of grammatical persons, especially the first person singular:

Neither she nor I is? / am? / are? inclined to go.

The use of is (third person) sounds awkward after I (first person), and am too is less than ideal: though it accords perfectly with I and provides proximity agreement, it makes a disjunction with she. Notional agreement would suggest are, to bundle she and I up together as plural, first / third person, but it’s still less than an elegant solution. Such sentences probably need redesigning, for example: I am not inclined to go and neither is she.

  • That's a nice answer, but I feel it's a cop-out. A: Which conjugation is correct? B: The correct thing to do is write something else. A: ...that's a good answer to a different question. Are they suggesting that it is impossible to conjugate the verb "to have" for the phrase "he nor I"? If so, that is quite a ridiculous bug in the language. Jan 22 '12 at 8:01
  • 2
    @hekevintran: I haved edited my answer to provide a fuller explanation from my source. Cases such as this show the futility of thinking in terms of what is 'correct'. Where there is variation in usage the pragmatic thing to do is to write in a way that will not distract the reader from what you have to say by the way in which you are saying it. Jan 22 '12 at 8:20
  • As a collocation, "form over substance" slightly outweighs "substance over form", but I imagine that's because in writing we're more preoccupied with complaining about people who make the wrong choice, rather than with telling them the right one. Jan 22 '12 at 13:50

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