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Verbs


Rule 5:
Separate subjects joined with and need a plural verb unless they are not really separate subjects.
Subjects joined with and can be singular or plural. The word and means about the same thing as a "+" in math-it means "both." Whenever you join two subjects with and, you are obviously talking about more than one-about both-and have to use a plural verb.

Examples:

• Understanding English grammar and knowing how to use grammar effectively are important to a good communicator.
• The investment broker and her assistant were at the meeting yesterday.

The two subjects in each sentence could be split and used in two separate sentences (this time with singular verbs, of course) without modifying the wording of the subjects themselves, as shown here:

• Understanding English grammar is important to a good writer.

and

• Knowing how to use grammar effectively is important to a good writer.

Likewise:

• The investment broker was at the meeting yesterday.

and

• Her assistant was at the meeting yesterday.

Sometimes, a single subject happens to have the word and in it:

• My friend and associate (the same person)
• Ham and eggs (one menu item)

These are singular subjects (subjects that identify just one person or thing) that have the word and in them. Thus, we could construct the following sentences using singular verbs.

Examples:

• My friend and associate is attending the meeting. (We could not separate my friend and associate into separate sentences without adding another my before associate.)
• Ham and eggs is my favorite breakfast. (Ham and eggs is one breakfast dish-one menu item. Thus, we would not communicate the same idea if we said Ham is my favorite breakfast and eggs are my favorite breakfast.)

Separate subjects joined with and need a plural verb. But if the two subjects are not really separate subjects, we use a singular verb.

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