Friday, June 12, 2009

Correlative Conjunctions & Proximity Concord

There are a few conjunctions in English known as correlative conjunctions .They are : neither...nor, either...or , both...and , not only....but also etc .

While using these correlative conjunctions students of English are often faced with the problem of subject-verb agreement . Correlative conjunction connect two or sometimes more than two pronouns or nouns in subject position,and the problem confronting the student is to make the verb agree with which subject .

Look at these two examples

1. Neither you nor I am responsible for this

Here the correlative conjunction neither...nor connects two pronouns , you (second person) and I (first person singular) In such cases we apply the Principle of Proximity Concord . According to this Principle the verb agrees with the subject just preceding it . Hence, we chose am and not are

2. Neither the Principal nor the teachers were present on the occasion

The Principle of Proximity Concord can be applied here ,too . The noun-subject just preceding the verb is the plural noun teachers and hence were is used and not was .

Students may note that when two nouns (both third persons) are connected with neither...nor the plural noun always follows the singular noun . and not the other way round . Similarly, First Person Singular I always follows the Second Person pronoun you in constructions using neither...nor and either...or

Dear readers . I will discuss a few more examples of subject -verb agreement in my next post

Thank you

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