Neither of you is going to the show tonight, ____?

Should it be isn't he/she? I think the fact that neither of you takes the third-person singular verb is means that a third-person question tag ought to be used. But it sounds so awfully strange. So does the second-person alternative aren't you? You can trivially replace all question tags with right? in informal speech, but aside from that, what is the appropriate question tag to use in such sentences?

EDIT: Oh right, I should have realized that. How careless of me. But can you explain why you would use "are you" instead of "isn't he/she", even though "neither of you" is a third-person reference?

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    There are any number of "grammar nazis" insisting that "neither" is singlular, but I think they are simply wrong. In this context it makes much more sense to say "Neither of you are going, are you?". Commented Feb 19, 2012 at 17:35
  • I don't understand. What are you asking that's any different to the ground covered by the question I linked to? Commented Feb 19, 2012 at 17:37
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    The former. But I suppose I'm convinced now that considering "neither of you" a second-person reference simplifies things. Commented Feb 19, 2012 at 18:03
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    Similar: One of us is wrong, aren't we?
    – herisson
    Commented Nov 24, 2017 at 6:01
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    @FumbleFingers Neither of you can never be second person, singular or plural. Neither is third person. Using a plural verb is indeed possible (despite the adamant misconception that is must always be singular), but it remains third person. Just like in the question linked to by sumelic, this is one case where tag question grammar simply breaks down. “Neither of you is/are going, are you?” is utterly ungrammatical to many (including me). “… is he?” is grammatical and natural if both people in ‘you’ are male—otherwise there is no possible tag question available at all. Commented Nov 24, 2017 at 8:35

4 Answers 4


The correct tag would be are you?

Neither of you is going to the show tonight, are you?

Note that the main part of the sentence is implicitly negative, because of neither, which explains the choice of are you? over aren't you?


Neither of you is going to the show equates to You are not going to the show. And you are not going either. The correct tag for these equivalent sentences is are you and I would suggest this is the correct tag to your original statement: Neither of you is going to the show, are you?

  • But they're not completely equivalent, as evidenced by the fact that "neither of you" and "you" don't agree in number - the former taking the third-person singular verb "is", and the latter taking the second-person verb "are". So shouldn't one analyze such sentences on a case-by-case basis, and establish that "are you?" is appropriate for "Neither of you is..." for some reason other than that it is appropriate for "You are not..."? Commented Feb 19, 2012 at 17:29
  • Sorry, but I suppose the main issue here is that the question tag doesn't agree with the number or person of the subject. That's what has me so confused. Thanks for the answer, though. I will agree that "are you?" sounds the least awkward of the possibilities. Commented Feb 19, 2012 at 17:33
  • @Kaiser Octavius, I agree that there is a mismatch between the singular is in the main clause and the plural are in the tag. But the speaker is addressing two people and the you of the main clause overrides the singular verb. Sometimes language usage is pragmatic rather than based on strict grammatical logic. This explains, for example, why neither of you are .. is common in informal english.
    – Shoe
    Commented Feb 19, 2012 at 18:03

Tag questions don't always follow the simple agreement rules. For one thing, they can occur in sentences that have undergone some strange syntax, like There-insertion.

I have an exercise on Tag Question Formation for my English grammar classes; it's designed for native English speakers, who can fill in the blanks automatically. However, then they have to figure out how the rule works, and that's by no means obvious.

One thing that can help is that any Noun Phrase like "X of T" can usually be analyzed


  • as a NP X modified by a prepositional phrase of T (so the verb agrees with X)


  • as a quantifier X (of) modifying a NP T (so the verb agrees with T).
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    But surely in OP's particular case one would "think ahead", foresee the problem if you started with "Neither of you is...", and switch to "are"? If you weren't quick enough to do that, wouldn't you just forget about the "tag question"? I can't see any sensible way of doing it if you used the singular verb, which in any case you shouldn't have wanted to do because you're asking two people, not making a statement about each one as an individual. Commented Feb 20, 2012 at 1:05

According to CGEL, neither of you is a partitive construction, and you is called the partitive oblique. It mentions cases in which "the antecedent is construed as plural with respect to subject-verb agreement. Here the pronoun takes its person and number from the partitive oblique. But also includes cases in which "the antecedent takes a 3rd person singular verb but a 1st or 2nd person plural pronoun," but opines, "many will feel that this difference makes the construction less than fully felicitous (and would feel more comfortable with a plural verb), but for others it is acceptable and explicable in terms of the potentially more mechanical nature of subject-verb agreement."

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