We know that if two or more singular nouns are joined with 'and' they take a plurality verb but if they convey the same idea they take a singular one.

Can you help me out with the following sentence:

The lack of interest and a high price of books ________ equally responsible for people running away from serious reading.

What shall we use "is" or "are"? I am in the favour of using "are".

  • There are two things responsible: lack and price. How could you rationalize a singular verb?
    – KarlG
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 23:26
  • In general a subject with the form of a coordination of NPs linked by "and" takes a plural verb. It doesn't matter whether the individual coordinates are singular or plural; the coordination as a whole denotes a set containing at least two members, and hence takes a plural verb. Singular override is found in examples like "Bacon and eggs is my favourite breakfast" and "The hammer and sickle was flying over the Kremlin", where the coordinates are regarded as a unit, and hence a plural verb is impossible.
    – BillJ
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 8:09

1 Answer 1


In your example, "are" is the correct form of verb.

Moreover, you seem to have absorbed an incorrect version of a rule. Two nouns that have similar meanings and are joined by "and" generally take a plural verb.

Jealousy and envy are similar emotions of no utility and less dignity.

It is when nouns joined by "and" are considered to be constituent parts of a single thing that a singular verb is used.

Meat and potatoes is what I grew up on

is considering that meat was one part of a single meal in my youth and that potatoes formed another part of that meal. But fish, greens, and fruits were not parts of typical meal.

  • But then we say " time and tide waits for none" don't they convey the same meaning?
    – Arunabh
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 19:44
  • First of all ngram says that time and tide wait is far more common time and tide waits. Second, time and tide are not the same thing in English even though "tide" is cognate with German "zeit." Third, if you want to consider time and tide as parts of the inexorable, you can justify the singular verb "waits." But few native speakers adopt that view. Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 20:19

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