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Plastic bags are bad for the environment because making plastic bags and burning them make a lot of CO2.

Plastic bags are bad for the environment because making plastic bags and burning them makes a lot of CO2.

There are two verbs joined with "and" so maybe "make" is correct, but I think "makes" sounds more natural. Can someone please help me here?

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The subject of the second half of that sentence, "...because making plastic bags and burning them make a lot of CO2" is "making plastic bags and burning them". So really we're talking about two actions, so the verb needs to be the plural form so "make" in this case.

However, this is also a common mistake, so you may often hear "makes" instead.

Also, if I may make a suggestion, try to avoid the duplicate use of the verb "to make" here, since it tends to sound a little awkward. Consider using the following instead:

Plastic bags are bad for the environment because making plastic bags and burning them produce a lot of CO2.

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  • Thank you! That makes sense. I must have heard people use it incorrectly so much that the correct way sounds strange. I will use your suggested sentence as well. I appreciate your help! – lisa21 Sep 6 '18 at 9:03
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    The reason that the "incorrect" way sounds so "natural" (and why this mistake is so "common") is that our ears are accustomed to hearing burning them makes, not burning them make. But as this answer explains, the rules change with a compound subject. – J.R. Sep 6 '18 at 10:59
  • @J.R. OK, but if you consider "making plastic bags and burning them" as a singular process/function, then makes could be OK. – user3169 Sep 7 '18 at 3:33

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