They or I ___ responsible for it.

  • Singular agreement is required.
    – BillJ
    Commented Apr 20 at 11:16
  • 5
    In contexts like yours the verb agrees with the plurality of the last element in the "compound noun", so it's They or I am responsible for it. But nobody much likes things like that, so most competent speakers would seek to rephrase. For example, Either they are responsible for it, or I am. Or use a different verb where the plurality doesn't affect things: They or I take responsibility for it. Commented Apr 20 at 11:16
  • 1
    It's called the 'proximity rule': the verb agrees with the proximate preceding NP, in this case singular "I".
    – BillJ
    Commented Apr 20 at 12:07

1 Answer 1


Based on the proximity rule (see point number 7),

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 closest to the verb. This is also called the rule of proximity. Example: The student or the committee members write every day.

we should use am:

They or I am responsible for it.

Competent speakers usually rephrase such sentences, as @FumbleFingers said.

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