verb agreement: compound subjects with and

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When two subjects are joined with the conjunction and or both…and, the compound subject is usually plural and takes a plural verb:

  • The hiker and the cyclist enjoy the great outdoors. [1 hiker + 1 cyclist = 2 people; the verb enjoy is plural]
  • Both Gina and I are planning a trip to Sicily. [Gina + I = 2 people; the verb are planning is plural]

However, it sometimes happens that two subjects joined by and form a singular subject:

  • Drinking and driving is dangerous. [Drinking and driving is a single activity; the verb is is singular.]
  • The senior writer and editor was promoted to the position of editor-in-chief. [The senior writer and editor is a single person; the verb was is singular.]
  • Macaroni and cheese seems to be popular among students in residence. [Macaroni and cheese is a single dish; the verb seems is singular.]

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