When two singular subjects are connected by 'neither...nor', does it take a singular verb or plural verb? Which is more natural and acceptable?

  1. Neither Mary nor Jane is / are beautiful.

A very clear explanation is here:

  • When two subjects are joined by neither-nor or either-or, [...] focus your attention on the noun closest to the verb.

  • If it is singular, as in the sentence above, choose the singular verb. If the noun is plural, choose the plural form of the verb.

So the sentences below are correct:

  • Neither Mary nor Jane is beautiful.

  • Neither the boy nor his sisters were wearing seatbelts.

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Neither Mary nor Jane is beautiful.

This is the correct sentence. We use singular verb forms after singular nouns and plural verb forms after plural nouns.


  1. Neither the European Union nor the international community is to blame for this. (European Union is singular and international community is singular too)
  2. Neither the photographs nor the lists constitute evidence of the actual claimed loss. (photographs is plural and lists is too)
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"Mary" and "Jane" both are single entities so "is" is to be used.

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  • I think 'are' can also be used. What I'd like to know is which is more natural and acceptable. – thein lwin Feb 16 '18 at 8:50
  • I'm afraid, "are" cannot be used in your sentence. Please read my edited answer below. Thank you! – Enguroo Feb 17 '18 at 2:25

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