Learn English – “If you or your colleague has” or “If you or your colleague have”


Which is correct out of the following two sentences?

  1. If you or your colleague have any questions, let me know
  2. If you or your colleague has any questions, let me know

I was originally thinking that #1 was correct because the sentence would be the following, if the colleague wasn't involved:

  • If you have any questions, let me know

But then my mind was telling me that perhaps the "or your colleague" bit changes the subject or something, so the sentence could be written as follows, if you weren't involved:

  • If your colleague has any questions, let me know

Best Answer

With a compound subject, the general rule is: If it uses "and", then clearly it's plural, so you should use a plural verb. If it uses "or", then the number of the verb should match the number of the LAST item in the list.

For example:

Either Bob or Fred has the answer.
Either Bob or the Thompson twins have the answer.
Either the Thompson twins or Bob has the answer.

(I haven't looked up a citation for this, but that's the rule I was taught in elementary school.)


I see there is some disagreement, so I just did a quick search. Here's a link to a college grammar site: http://leo.stcloudstate.edu/grammar/subverag.html. They say:

If subjects are joined by or or nor, the verb should agree with the closer subject.


Either the actors or the director is at fault.

Subjects: actors, director; Verb: is


Either the director or the actors are at fault.

Subjects: director, actors; Verb: are

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