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John, Anne, or Peter (is/are) going to do it.

Giving your mother flowers or buying a card (is a great idea / are great ideas) for Mother's day gift.

I am aware of the rule saying that two singular subjects connected by or or nor require a singular verb. My American friends say that "is" does not sound natural in the first sentence and "are" sounds valid in the second one (as well as "is"). I am a bit confused

What grammar rule have you used? Is the alternative option grammatically correct or incorrect? If it was incorrect, why?

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  • If only one person can actually do the thing that John, Anne and Peter have all volunteered for, I would use is. I don't see the options in the second sentence as mutually exclusive, so I would probably use and/or with are! – Kate Bunting May 13 at 13:00
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John, Anne, or Peter (is/are) going to do it.

Giving your mother flowers or buying a card (is a great idea / are great ideas) for Mother's day gift.

All the nouns in the examples above are singular, and we use the singular verb is.

In case we have a mix of singular and plural nouns, follow Rule (3) below.

  1. When two or more singular nouns or pronouns are connected by or or nor, use a singular verb.

The book or the pen is in the drawer.

  1. When a compound subject contains both a singular and a plural noun or pronoun joined by or or nor, the verb should agree with the part of the subject that is nearer the verb.

The boy or his friends run every day.

His friends or the boy runs every day.

Purdue

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