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You know that forks don't fly off to the Moon and that neither apples nor anything thing else on earth cause the Sun to crash down on us.

As far as i know , with 'nether-nor', verb cause should agree to anything else, the closest noun from verb. Then how come the verb is not singular in the sentence above?

  • Where is this sentence from? You are right in that the verb cause should agree with the subject anything else and become causes. – urnonav Sep 25 '19 at 14:13
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I found this on Towson's website:

If the individual parts of the compound subject are joined by or or nor, use the verb form (singular or plural) which will agree with the subject closer to the verb.

The ranger or the campers see the bear.

The rangers or the camper sees the bear.

Following this, your sentence would have "cause" agree with "anything else", so it should be "causes".

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  • Consider a construction such as I don't think your friends or your wife like me. Where it's I don't think your wife likes me if we don't have a "compound subject", but native speakers certainly wouldn't adopt your stated principle of "verb agrees with the nearest element of a compound subject" in that context. Personally, I think both versions are at least "acceptable" for OP's specific context, but doubtless there will be pedants arguing for/against one or the other. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Sep 25 '19 at 15:00
  • I agree that I'd personally use either in a conversation, but I don't think "because I think it sounds decent" would be a good reason to provide a language learner. – JRodge01 Sep 25 '19 at 15:05
  • It seems to depend on the exact context. But unless you're going to claim that I don't think your friends or your wife likes me is actually "correct" (and to me that one isn't even acceptable), surely we must accept that the "rule" you've cited is even less helpful for learners, since it will lead them to say things that native speakers never would. Maybe there's a better rule, I dunno. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Sep 25 '19 at 15:29
  • Purdue also agrees with the rule: owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/grammar/… . Mayhaps you just found the one example that sounds bad, but is technically correct? :/ – JRodge01 Sep 25 '19 at 15:32
  • I'm more on board with the "descriptive linguistics" approach than "prescriptive grammar", so from my point of view sounds bad (and thus avoided by native speakers) , but is technically correct is something of an oxymoron. The "rules" simply codify the forms people actually use, and if there's any conflict I'd normally side with the people (language is "democracy in action", imho! :) – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Sep 25 '19 at 15:46
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As far as I know the sentence is wrong according to purists but there are different versions.

I have found a rule which says:

If neither and nor are followed by singular nouns the verb should be singular but if neither or nor is followed by a plural noun the verb be should be plural. So the sentence is right.

I herewith attach the link to make things clear.

https://www.myenglishpages.com/site_php_files/grammar-lesson-either-or-neither-nor.php

Neither apples nor anything else on earth cause the sun---------- is
correct

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  • I would like to know the correct answer to this question.No answer or comment seems to be correct – successive suspension Sep 26 '19 at 11:51

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