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Technically an English Question...

I didn't know where to post this since I'm not learning English. Sorry!

Anyway, read the following:

"When Josh or I am hungry." "When Josh or I is hungry." "When Josh or I are hungry."

I understand what conjugation of "to be" to use when the word "or" is substituted with the word "and," but even as a native speaker, I don't really know which of the above to use.

Which would you say, and WHAT ARE THE ACTUAL GRAMMATICAL RULES on the topic?

Thank you in advance!


March 5, 2018



The verb should be singular because you have a choice between two singular subjects.
When Josh is hungry OR when I am hungry.

I would say "When Josh or I am hungry" because the verb should agree with the pronoun closest to it.


I would actually say 'are', because there are two people, but maybe I'm wrong.

Edit: Hey, I'm wrong, you're right. If the sentence used 'and' I would be right, but he used 'or.' Sorry! https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/599/01/


This is a very good website. I use it a lot for when I teach writing to my college students.


Ltrward has the rule right and it can sound fairly natural if both subjects are third-person and differ only in number (especially if you put the plural subject last): "The cat or dogs are running." But the "Josh or I" example, mixing third-person and first-person, is just going to sound awkward. I think most English speakers instinctively avoid it and an editor would likely recast the sentence. In some contexts "When either of us is hungry" would work well.


I've been convinced that it should be "am." However, I'll just try to avoid this situation in general in the future. As a rule of thumb, if I do need to say something like this, I'll just add an extra verb and say "When Josh IS or I AM hungry?" I'm pretty sure that's correct?

Thank you all for taking the time to respond!!


Josh is hungry. (singular)

I am hungry. (singular self)

We are hungry. (plural)


When Josh or I am hungry. Corresponds to linguistic attraction:



After reading all your comments (thanks again for the responses!) I'm leaning towards these two options:

"When Josh or I am hungry."

"When Josh or I is hungry."

I know the second one might sound strange, but here's my reasoning: Instead of saying "When Josh or I," one might say "When either one of us" instead. Both those phrases mean the same thing, although you don't know who the other person is without context in the second example. In order to be grammatically correct with the second example, you'd say "When either one of us IS hungry." Therefore, an argument could be made that "is" should be used instead of "am." The most prominent argument for "am" is proximity agreement, as "I" is the closes pronoun to the verb.

This also raises the question of what to use when saying "When Josh and/or I." I know "and/or" really only appears in legal speech, and that in conversation, "or" can mean the same thing as "and/or," but let's pretend that you want to use "and/or" to be very clear. What verb should you use? Are? Am? Is?

Would it still be "am" because of proximity? Would it be "are" because there's a possibility of talking about both people? Would it be "is" because there's a possibility of talking about only one person? (If you buy everything I said in the above argument)


Why would you say "I is hungry."? I hope you would say "I am hungry."

The choice should be easy.


A simplistic answer is

"When Josh or myself is hungry, ( we go to MacDonald's for a burger )"

however HM the Queen (Queen's English) almost always delivers a similar phrase in her Christmas Message to the nation on TV

"My Husband and I are - - -"

One would venture to suggest that if it be good enough for HM the Queen Elizabeth, it could be good enough for us mere mortals? :-)

(mind you, I don't think she's ever been for a MacD's with Prince Philip )


Sorry, no. You should not say "when myself is hungry..." The presence of "Josh" in the sentence needs to be ignored. Correct is: "When Josh or I am hungry."

"My Husband and I are - - -" is correct English, even in the U.S. . I am glad that the Queen knows "the Queen's English. "

See these: https://data.grammarbook.com/blog/pronouns/tis-i-or-tis-me/ https://stevehendersonfineart.com/blog/26486/grammar-despair-do-i-say-him-and-me-or-he-and-i https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/599/01/

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