Subject and/or Verb

Today’s tip comes from Shea Writing & Training Solutions, compliments of Ivy Jody-Castillo.

Q1: How do you choose the correct verb for the following sentence?
The technician and/or the coordinator (meet or meets) with the manager.

A1: First, you have to determine if the subject is singular or plural. “Technician and coordinator” implies that the subject is plural, but “technician or coordinator” implies that it is either one or the other, so the subject would be singular. (Remember that when you have two subjects joined by ‘or’ or ‘nor,’ you must choose the subject that is closer to the verb and make that subject agree with the verb.)

Q2: So which is it? The technician and the coordinator meet with the manager.


The technician or the coordinator meets with the manager.

Q3: Are you still with me?

A2: And/or is a shortcut that can lead to ambiguity or confusion. So, avoid using and/or in your writing. Grammar experts agree on this.

If you insist on using ‘and/or,’ I would consider that the ‘or’ is closer to the verb, so I would punctuate the sentence this way:
A3: The technician and/or the coordinator meets with the manager.

Thanks, Ivy, for the great tip.

The folks at Shea know what they are talking about, and they have considerable experience with oil patch writing here in Houston. So you might want to check out their 3-day Technical Writing Workshop at the Westlake Club in Houston in September if you feel you need some serious help with your writing. Here’s the link with all the details:

It’s BYOL = Bring Your Own Laptop – and one of your working documents in progress, which they will help you fix.

Profound Quote of the Day:

“A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking.”

– Earl Wilson, baseball pitcher for the Red Sox, Tigers, and Padres, 1934-2005



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