“The number of job postings in the MLA’s Job Information List will be down 21 percent in 2008-9, the steepest annual decline in its 34-year history” — Inside Higher Education. When the SBL and AAR report their figures this year, it’ll be interesting to see how theological education fares (the sense of “interesting” varying, depending on whether Margaret or I actually has a teaching job next year).
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I can’t believe you would make a mistake, but shouldn’t it be Margaret or I have etc.?
Ach! An artefact of the editing process. I’ll leave it there as a cautionary lesson.
Well, on second thought — if we implanted “either” into the copy, so that it reads “either Margaret or I,” would that take “has” or “have”? The subject “either” would take “has,” wouldn’t it? One could easily read my sentence as having an elided “either,” which would justify using “has.”
Another way of testing the verb would be to eliminate one of the constituents of the noun phrase. If we eliminate me from the phrase, it would read “if Margaret has a job”; if we eliminate Margaret, it reads “if I have a job,” but that’s just because “I” takes the first person form. I think “has” might be right after all for the unknown alternative of two options. Perhaps?