I encountered a sentence in The New York Times:
This is an engrossing story, which Wood tells with a mastery of detail and a modern plainness of expression that makes a refreshing contrast with the 18th-century locutions of his subjects.
Isn't the subject of the verb "make" a mastery of detail and a modern plainness of expression? Shouldn't the verb "make" take the third-person plural conjugation and thus be "make" instead of "makes"? Had I read it elsewhere, I'd be certain it was a mistake, but it's The NYT and it's Richard Brookhiser.
Also the title of the article In ‘Friends Divided,’ John Adams and Thomas Jefferson Beg to Differ reads strange. I thought one person could beg to differ with someone else. I understand the author tries to say Adams and Jefferson beg to differ with each other, but is this usage, where the subject of beg to differ is multiple parties, common and natural?
Google search results of we beg to differ and they beg to differ all appear to point to an implied "with you" or "with the mainstream opinion" or "with the said opinion," instead of "with each other" as is used in the article title in question. Are there instances where "beg to differ" is used to mean "we disagree with each other"?