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Spoken / written

Forum > English only || Bottom

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Spoken / written
Message from mohammad51 posted on 06-03-2018 at 17:17:46 (D | E | F)
Please help again.
I recently have noticed that both plural verb and singular verb are used after " neither of or either of ?
The rule everywhere I read online or in the books confirms that either of \ neither of are singular pronouns and the verb after them usually takes the singular form, because simply neither makes the statement negative ( not this person\ thing) to choose and with either of also in positive ( this person\ thing or the other). Surly then both neither of\ either of refer to one, thus commonly the verb after those indefinite pronouns = singular.
Why to make it in chaos supporting many rules? Is it a day to hear all the grammarians agreeing on one idea?

I found this on Oxford learners dictionary.
Neither of them has/have a car.
I know, perfectly I know, neither of them has a car, could mean ( no one of them has a car)
Neither of them have a car. = both of them do not have a car.
If we say, both of them do not have a car or we said each of them does not have a car. ( no difference in meaning)
But why to say something in grammar then give in example the opposite?
some said "spoken" others said " written"
Rule is a rule and nothing more I want to add.
Thank you and please allow me to tell about what is in mind.

I don't mean ( either .... or \ neither ...nor)

Edited by lucile83 on 06-03-2018 22:27

Re: Spoken / written from gerondif, posted on 09-03-2018 at 12:14:50 (D | E)
I think language was invented before grammar-books were invented, books which could only be used by people who could read, something not so common before the twentieth century, and there again, it depends on which countries or continents. Some girls still get killed because they try to go to school in certain countries.

You don't have to believe everything that is written in a book, whether it be a bible, or a coran, or a grammar-book. (a young student recently sent a link for a grammar book written in French and English dating back from 1806 and both the French and the English sentences were wrong for us nowadays) What I mean is a human brain and the need for communication will create expressions or ways of speech that are adequate for a need, and the ways a human brain works may create associations which lead to structures that may be wrong grammatically but commonly used. Then, if a grammar-book mentions both, why get angry at the grammar-book ? Applying rules strictly might lead to a grammatical paralysis or integrism that would prevent a language from living, from evolving. You say "a rule is a rule" but in many languages, a mistake can become correct once a grammatical reform says so. For example, there is apparently no need for hyphens any more in compound-nouns like a grammar-book, a living-room. "I had rather play than work" has become "I would rather play than work", which I find redundant because would and rather both express a preference, but that's life ! What was a mistake because of the confusion between 'd for had and 'd for would in "I'd rather play than work" has led to an acceptance of the "new"structure with would instead of had.

To get back to your example:
Yes, either or neither should be singular, obviously:
Neither if them is guilty.
Either of them is welcome to do the job.

BUT a human brain sees two (or more) people, and is used to the plural when he says : Both of them were invited, both of them are guilty, both of them have a car.
So, by a mechanism of association or analogy, it is no wonder that some people might say:
Neither of them are guilty.
Either or them are welcome to do the job.
All the more so as, for lexical verbs, there is for certain tenses no difference between a singular form and a plural form:
Either of them can do the job.
Neither of them came.
Both of them will come, neither of them will come.
So, some grammar-books may take that into account and quote both structures.

You can of course be strict about grammar-rules but can you go against language habits used by lots of people, whole nations ?
Here is another example:
to have is a lexical verb:
DO you have a car ? Do you like your car ?
Yes, I do.
Yes, I have a car. Yes, I like my car.
No, I don't.
No, I don't have a car. No, I don't like my car.
If you stick to the rule, there is no way you can have:
Have you the time ?
Has he a car ?
I would come if I'd the time.
I haven't the time, where have is used as an auxiliary verb that can use the inversion and cope with the n't, and be shortened into 'd.
Still, it is commonly heard and used for example in Scotland, Ireland and some other places.

In your example, whether they use the singular or the plural, the message will get through, the meaning remains the same.

Re: Spoken / written from mohammad51, posted on 12-03-2018 at 19:28:08 (D | E)
Thank you much gerondif

Indeed your explanation is good.
As I said, the matter is beyond spoken and written and as I was satisfied that the written form is never used alike the spoken form.

here examples ( Cambridge )
Spoken English:

In formal styles, we use neither of with a singular verb when it is the subject. However, in informal speaking, people often use plural verbs:

Neither of my best friends was around.

Neither of them were interested in going to university.

In speaking, we can use neither on its own in replies when we are referring to two things that have already been mentioned:


Mike, which would you prefer, tea or coffee?

Neither thanks. I’ve just had a coffee.

We use neither of before pronouns and plural countable nouns which have a determiner (my, his, the) before them:

Neither of us went to the concert.

Neither of the birthday cards was suitable.

Would you agree with me that spoken has privately uses other than the written?

Re: Spoken / written from gerondif, posted on 13-03-2018 at 21:34:41 (D | E)
yes, I suppose that using the plural is more relaxed, so more oral that written.

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