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Consider this sentence:

Using this method and applying the mentioned principles ...is/are... able to improve the performance.

I'm confused which verb to use. Since I'm talking about two things it seems that I should use plural form of be, but isn't it possible to consider "Using this method and applying the mentioned principles" as one thing and use the singular form of be?

  • If you want to use is/are at that place in the sentence then I think it needs a subject, e.g. "Using this method and applying the mentioned principles, one is able to improve performance" / "Using this method and applying the mentioned principles, engineers are able to improve performance". You can keep the sentence subjectless and still use the verb "to be" in its infinitive form by switching the word or to, for example "Using this method and applying the mentioned principles allows performance to be improved", or you can make it "passive" and eliminate the need for "to be" altogether – Paul Jan 29 at 22:05
  • by saying for example "Using this method and applying the mentioned principles allows improved performance." or ".... leads to improved performance." – Paul Jan 29 at 22:05
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Neither example sentence (is/are) is right...

Using this method and applying the mentioned principles is able to improve the performance. *

no

Using this method and applying the mentioned principles are able to improve the performance. *

no

There are different ways to fix this. One is to add a subject:

Using this method and applying the mentioned principles, engineers are able to improve performance.

ok

Using this method and applying the mentioned principles, one is able to improve performance.

ok

Or, you may change the format of the sentence slightly:

Using this method and applying the mentioned principles allows performance to be improved.

or

Using this method and applying the mentioned principles leads to improved performance.

This last sentence with "leads" as the verb has the original problem you asked about: Should the verb be singular or plural?

While either of those choices could be within the realm of possibility, the singular flows better, and seems to be preferable. So you'd understand it this way:

(Using this method and applying the mentioned principles) leads to improved performance.

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