Both John and Christina takes an apple

Both John and Christina take an apple.

Which one is correct? Why?



When you have a compound noun joined with "and", it is plural. This makes logical sense. "John and Christina" are presumably two people. So you use the plural form of the verb.

When you have two singular nouns joined by "or", you use a singular verb. If it was "John OR Christina", then the sentence would be "John or Christina takes an apple."

If you have a singular and a plural joined by "or", then the rule is that the one closest to the verb governs the number of the verb. So "John or the Miller twins take an apple", versus "The Miller twins or John takes an apple."

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  • Okay, thanks. I got confused because of the word "both" in the front. – T2E May 14 '13 at 20:18
  • Ah. In this case "both John and Christina" is the minimum simple subject. But in some cases there are additional phrases between the simple subject and the verb that confuse people. Like "The owner of the dogs takes ..." The subject is "owner", which is singular, so the verb should be "takes", singular. Many English-speakers get confused and use a plural verb here because "dogs" is the last known they see and it is plural. But the subject isn't "dogs", it's "owner". – Jay May 21 '13 at 13:33
  • I meant to say "is the last noun they see and it is plural", not the "last known". There's something interesting about language that, at least for myself, many of my spelling errors are accidentally writing a word that has a similar sound. – Jay May 22 '13 at 17:44

"Both John and Christina take an apple." is the correct one.

Takes would be used if you were describing individual actions, for example Christina takes an apple and John takes an apple.

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