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Look at this example below

In the game of life, it is the confidence and positive attitude that help/helps children sail through with ease.

I know that in case of inseparable or interlinked multiple subjects we use a singular verb, like

Bread and butter is the minimum requirement of every human to survive.

Is it the case of the example that is given? Or should we treat confidence and positive attitude as two different subjects?

I think explanation given here is different. In my question there is a possibility that confidence and positive attitude are inseparable entities hence they can't be treated as different subjects from the contextual meaning viewpoint. Correct me if my understanding is wrong.

  • the confidence and positive attitude? – Tᴚoɯɐuo Aug 13 '18 at 17:04
  • Idiomatically, it would be much better to remove the definite article in the confidence (and optionally add an indefinite article to a positive attitude). Whether to treat the "compound subject" as singular or plural is really a stylistic choice, for which I've no particular preference either way. – FumbleFingers Aug 13 '18 at 17:10
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    Possible duplicate of Which way: One and one ARE two? One and one IS two? – FumbleFingers Aug 13 '18 at 17:13
  • I meant suppose they are together in this form only like ' the confidence and positive attitude that'....So what will be the answer then? – Ritwik Bhattacharyya Aug 13 '18 at 17:20
  • Then you mean to say the confident and positive attitude. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Aug 13 '18 at 18:36
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Confidence is a uncountable noun which does not require a definite article before it. Attitude is a countable noun and should have an article, in this case the indefinite article, in front of it (or in this case before the adjective preceding it). Finally, the last word in your sentence is ungrammatical as it currently stands. It would be better to replace 'ease' with 'with ease' or 'easily'. So your sentence might then become:

In the game of life, it is confidence and a positive attitude that helps children sail through with ease.

Bread and butter is a standard interlinked phrase in English, but it is usually used in the figurative sense of a person's means of living that allows them to provide food and shelter for them and their family. That is not to say that it cannot be used literally, as in your case, but I would have thought that bread and water would be a better description of 'the minimum requirement of every human to survive', with 'bread' meaning some kind of nutritious 'food'. In this case the two (ie food and water) may be considered as inseparable; a person cannot survive for too long without both. However, even in this case it would not be wrong to say:

Bread and butter are the minimum requirements of every human to survive.

I would not consider Confidence and a positive attitude to be an inseparable phrase, although the two are sometimes used together. Whereas it is difficult to argue that 'Bread and butter is the minimum requirement of every human to survive', there are many other options that could be put forth as being things a child needs to be able to sail through the game of life with ease, e.g. good self-esteem, wealthy parents, a good education, a happy home life, positive role-models, etc.

If, in an article or book, an argument had been presented for the proposition that 'confidence and a positive attitude' are the two most important aspects leading to success in the game of life, and had created a mindset in which these two aspects can be thought of as inseparable, I would have no problems with the sentence:

In the game of life, it is confidence and a positive attitude that helps children sail through with ease.

In the absence of such an argument, I would personally prefer to see:

In the game of life, it is confidence and a positive attitude that help children sail through with ease.

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