French Language French Grammar: Subject verb agreement — Agreement with more than one subject

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Subject-verb agreement — Agreement with more than one subject - Subjects linked by: ni ... ni (neither... nor), soit ... soit, (either ... or) and ou (or)


Subject-Verb Agreement[edit | edit source]

The subject-verb agreement in French is the way to choose the correct ending for verbs in terms of grammatical persons, gender and number, depending on their subject.

Agreement with more than one subject[edit | edit source]

The French language distinguishes 2 types which go with these modes of coordination.

Verb in the singular[edit | edit source]

If the meaning emphasizes the individual and does not "add them up", the verb may very well be in the singular:

  • Ni Vincent ni Nicolas n'a pu me dire où se trouvaient nos amis
Neither Vincent nor Nicolas was able to tell me where our friends were
  • C'est soit elle soit sa sœur qui doit te joindre au téléphone
It's either her or her sister who must reach you on the phone

Verb in the plural[edit | edit source]

If, on the other hand, the 2 elements are considered as a group, the verb will be in the plural:

  • Ni moi ni ma femme n'ont pu comprendre le fonctionnement de cet appareil
Neither I nor my wife could understand how this device works

Agreement with "ni l'un ni l'autre"[edit | edit source]

The same principle works with the agreement with "ni l'un ni l'autre". When they are “additive”, the verb is in the plural, when they act as “individuals”, the verb is in the singular:

  • Ni Pierre ni Renée n'avaient pu se souvenir du nombre de participants
Neither Pierre nor Renée could remember the number of participants
  • Ni l'une ni l'autre n'ont pu rencontrer le directeur de l'usine
Neither could meet the factory manager
  • Ni Olivier ni Sébastien ne viendra
Neither Olivier nor Sébastien will come
  • Ni l'une ni l'autre ne viendra
Neither the one nor the other will come

Other Chapters[edit | edit source]

Other Chapters[edit source]

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