Two singulars connected by 'and'?

English grammar and usage issues

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Two singulars connected by 'and'?

Unread postby jazzbrat » 31 Oct 2007, 14:07

Today, I had a grammar headache. I wrote on a students work "Your grammar and spelling is very good". Then I backtracked, and changed it to "are". Then I faintly recalled being taught that it was indeed "is" by a grammar book.

So, is it "Your spelling and grammar is very good"

or

"Your spelling and grammar are very good"

I think it should be 'is'.
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Re: Two singulars connected by 'and'?

Unread postby Chopvac » 04 Nov 2007, 14:00

jazzbrat wrote:Today, I had a grammar headache. I wrote on a students work "Your grammar and spelling is very good". Then I backtracked, and changed it to "are". Then I faintly recalled being taught that it was indeed "is" by a grammar book.

So, is it "Your spelling and grammar is very good"

or

"Your spelling and grammar are very good"

I think it should be 'is'.


spelling -> it
grammar -> it

it + it = they

Which verb do you use with they, is or are?
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Unread postby jazzbrat » 05 Nov 2007, 12:18

Of course "are".

However, when you type in "Your logic and reasoning is" on google, you get over 800 results. If you do the same using "are", you get around 300.

It seems that if the two singular nouns are commonly thought of as being a unit, such as logic and reasoning, or spelling and grammar, it seems to take "is".

Does anyone else have any knowledge of this?
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Unread postby Peter Easton » 26 Nov 2007, 08:30

Simple. In this context, the words ‘spelling’ and ‘grammar’ are uncountable (or mass) nouns. In other words, it would be wrong to say ‘your spellings and grammars are good’.

Consider this example:

There is milk and butter in this cake. :R:
There are milk and butter in this cake. :W:
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Re: Two singulars connected by 'and'?

Unread postby matthau » 25 Mar 2008, 16:39

There is milk and butter ... .
There are carrots and butter ...
- the proximity rule works.
But: Milk and butter are essential products.
Because 'milk' and 'butter' are two independent entities.
Cf.: Fish and chips is my favourite dish.
'Fish and chips' is understood as a single whole.
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Re: Two singulars connected by 'and'?

Unread postby Chopvac » 29 Mar 2008, 14:42

matthau wrote:There is milk and butter ... .
There are carrots and butter ...
- the proximity rule works.
But: Milk and butter are essential products.
Because 'milk' and 'butter' are two independent entities.
Cf.: Fish and chips is my favourite dish.
'Fish and chips' is understood as a single whole.


If you didn't notice, all the "are"s were countables. Uncountables and mixed countable/uncountable used "There is".
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Re: Two singulars connected by 'and'?

Unread postby matthau » 29 Mar 2008, 16:37

You need to distinguish between the constructions:

(1) A + B is/are C
(2) There is/are A + B

because different rules for subject - predicate agreement work.

In (1) the criterion is whether A + B can be understood as a single unit or not. Depending upon that you choose the form of the predicate verb.

In (2) the proximity rule works, i.e. the predicate verb agrees with the nearest subject noun.
Cf.: There is milk and carrots ...
There are carrots and milk ...

About the original message:
I think, 'Your spelling and grammar are ...'
Though, some peolpe may say that spelling is part of grammar. Then the phrase sounds as ridiculous as 'Your cheeks and face are pale'. If we substitute, say, 'vocabulary' for 'spelling', the phrase would be absolutely correct.
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