The Editor's Manual
Grammar, usage, punctuation, and style resource for editors, writers, and learners of the English language.
Names of decades and centuries (the 1800s, the 1970s, the eighties, the ’90s) are generally considered plural but can also be used with singular verbs.
Use the correct form of the verb with singular and plural subjects. To ensure subject-verb agreement, identify the subject and check whether it is singular or plural. Some subjects may appear plural but be singular.
“Any” can be singular or plural, depending on whether you mean “at least one” or “one or more.” It is generally used with uncountable and plural countable nouns in questions and negative statements, though it may be used with a singular countable noun for emphasis.
One of a group is singular (“One of them is”). But when “one of the” is followed by “who” or “that,” check who is being described: the entire group or one of them.
Use the “either-or” and “neither-nor” to affirm or negate the one or the other of two alternatives. Make sure that the elements joined using “or” and “nor” are grammatically balanced and parallel in structure.
“Either” is grammatically singular. In formal texts, prefer “either is” to “either are” (“Either of these is acceptable”). In informal usage, the word may be singular or plural (“Is/are either of them here?”).
“Neither,” which means “not either,” negates each of two possibilities individually. Treat it as singular (“neither is”). In informal usage, it sometimes negates both things together and then takes a plural verb (“neither are”).
“None” may be either singular or plural, depending on whether you mean “not one” or “not any.” To refer to the individual members of a group, use a singular verb; for the entire group, use a plural verb.
Use “I” instead of “me” when it forms part of the subject (“You and I can work on this together”). When pronouns are joined using “or” or “nor” to form the subject, the verb should agree with the part closest to it (“Either you or I am right”).
When the words in a compound subject are joined by “and,” it is plural. When they are joined by “or” or “nor,” the verb should agree with the part closest to it. When phrases like “as well as” are attached to a singular subject, it stays singular.