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This sentence from a book makes sense to me semantically--I understand all the terms in it--but not syntactically.

Living plant collections are insurance policies, although maintaining the premiums is high.

I think it's correct to say "the premiums are high", but what does "maintaining the premiums is high" mean?

A little bit background: the author is arguing that we need to preserve apple cultivars, and they can only be preserved as collections of living trees, which is therefore considered "insurance policies."

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    maintaining the premiums is high is the correct version. Don't forget that the subject is a single thing: maintaining something. This is in principle similar to saying that selling shoes is profitable. The act of selling shoes is profitable, not the shoes. – Michael Rybkin Dec 5 '17 at 0:31
  • @CookieMonster I assume you'd find "the shoes are expensive" more agreeable than "selling shoes is expensive"? – Eddie Kal Dec 5 '17 at 5:04
  • They are both correct. – Michael Rybkin Dec 5 '17 at 5:06
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While it is correct to say is high rather than are high, I wouldn't use this phrase as written. We don't -- at least I don't -- say maintaining something is high. We say that the cost of maintaining it is high. If we just referred to premiums, we could say that they are high, because it is clear that a premium is something that you pay for.

If I were the writer's editor, I would suggest an alteration to one of these:

Living plant collections are insurance policies, although the premiums are high.
Living plant collections are insurance policies, although maintaining the premiums is costly/expensive.
Living plant collections are insurance policies, although maintaining the premiums comes at a high cost.

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