Which verb should be used?

The president (and his assistant) was/were expected to arrive by 10:00 a.m.

Which is the correct verb?


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I’m never sure about this type of thing. I think it should be the singular. ‘The president’ is the subject. When you add something to that, it does not change the subject. It only adds additional information.

The president and his assistant… (plural)
The president, as well as his assistant, … (singular)
The president, along with his assistant,… (singular)
The president, with the aid of an assistant,… (singular)


I think the bracketing poses the problem. In fact, it is to be avoided.
In either case, your listener has the notion of two people in mind, which calls for a plural verb.


The president, as well as his assistant, was expected to arrive by 10 am. - Grammatically acceptable.
The assistant, as well as his president, was expected to arrive by 10 am. - Semantically acceptable in terms of the context.

(Importance is given to the person or thing possessing a higher position or prominence. Here, the assistant only joins or accompanies the president.)


It seems to me that anything within parentheses should not affect the structure of the sentence in any way. If you have a simple five word sentence, and insert an entire paragraph in parentheses, it shouldn’t change the sentence.

It’s like an aside. It can have it’s own capitalization and punctuation, completely separate from the main sentence.

As you pointed out, using the brackets in the first place caused the problem. In this case I think it’s because the sentence flows so easily that the reader ignores the brackets.


To me, parenthesizing a subject (A subject may be a name, a noun, a noun phrase or even a clause) is different from parenthesizing a descriptive paragraph or a sentence.
I hope you will agree on this.

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