Microwave heating can offer rapid and homogeneous heating and thus avoids unwanted temperature gradients.

I'm confused about whether to use a singular or plural verb in the secondary clause of a sentence where the main clause has an auxiliary verb (in this case, can).

Further, how would the meaning of the sentence change if avoids was replaced with avoid?


What's happening above is something similar to this:

After recovering I can walk and therefore go to the store.

Go is "borrowing" walk's subject, and it's also borrowing walk's modal.

After recovering I can walk and therefore [I can] go to the store.

The verb still has to agree with the subject even if it's "borrowed" and implied or elided.

The subject of offer in your example is microwave heating, and it's singular, so you have to use the third-person singular form avoids. Avoid is ungrammatical.

  • Suppose, if the word "thus" is absent, then i should modify the verb, am i correct? – tosh Dec 4 '16 at 15:00
  • Nope. The subject of that second verb is still the same even without thus. – LawrenceC Dec 4 '16 at 15:03

The subject of the first clause is the subject of the second clause connected by and. The verb in each of the clauses must agree in number with the number of the subject.

To make the subject clearer, you can use a pronoun:

... and thus it ....

If you wish to restate the capability:

... and thus can avoid...


... and thus it can avoid...

You could switch the subject to uniform heating with a relative clause, and in so doing you would avoid the tautology (i.e. homogeneous heating = no temperature gradients):

Microwave heating can offer rapid, homogeneous heating, which prevents unwanted temperature gradients.

or you can express the causal relationship:

Microwave heating can offer rapid, homogeneous heating, thereby preventing unwanted temperature gradients.


The question hits upon a particular kind of redundancy. When does microwave heat not offer “instantaneous and homogeneous heating? Never! That is what it does (strictly, one could quibble about whether the heating is strictly ‘homogeneous’.). It offers those things to anyone thinking of buying such a heater.

So there is a crude stylistic fault, which we might call all sorts of thing: unnecessary qualification (as in a cricket commentator’s: “if the bowler’s first ball had hit the wicket, the batsman would almost certainly have been out.”). But there is no grammatical error.

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