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Is this grammar correct?

"Why condition1 and condition2 wins over condition3."

Example: "Why teamwork and ideas wins over smarts".

I'm not sure the proper way to form the tense/aspect for "win". I'm saying this has already happened, but it will happen again. For example, we won the competition, and we know we won because we were good at cooperating and we had lots of good ideas.

Is the correct grammar supposed to be win, wins, or won?

Thanks! Any help would be appreciated!

  • I have edited/rephrased your question to give it a better focus on what you are asking. Since I added in a bit of my interpretation of "your voice", please confirm this is, in fact, your intended meaning. – CoolHandLouis Jun 4 '14 at 1:08
  • BobtheZealot, can you please confirm my comment above? – CoolHandLouis Jun 11 '14 at 8:41
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Win, Wins or Won? Which is correct?

  • "Why condition1 and condition2 wins over condition3."
    Example: "Why teamwork and ideas wins over smarts".

...etc.

Your clause -- "Why condition1 and condition2 wins over condition3." -- is typical for a title of an essay or article.

1. Which Aspect?

The given clause uses an aspect that indicates it's always true: in the past, present, and future. For that we use the present tense. This is called the "gnomic aspect", which uses the simple present in English to describe a general truth.

2. Is the subject singular or plural?

Next you need to consider the issue of whether the subject is singular or plural. The answer to this is based on whether or not you consider "teamwork and ideas" to be a single concept or two separable things. Unfortunately, this is not so easy with this subject!

2a. Maybe it's a singular subject.

A good argument can be made that you're pitting one thing (the combination of "teamwork and ideas") vs. another thing ("smarts"), and only one of them can "win". Thus we use the singular form of the verb:

  • One thing wins over another thing.
  • Why one thing wins over another thing.
  • Why teamwork and ideas wins over smarts.

One could also say that if you use the singular form of the verb, you are in fact forcing the subject to be thought of as singular. In other words, plurality of the subject could be considered an issue of desired semantics instead of "correct grammatical style". However, this type of logic doesn't often win over fans of "proper" style.

2b. Maybe it's a plural subject.

Personally, I don't think so. But if you do think so, use "win".

Also, it looks very much like two (or more) separate things, so even if you consider them a single concept, it may "look weird" to use the singular. Some people will be unhappy with a singular verb form and will argue for the plural, "win".

3. "You can't win" (So change it.)

Unlike your proposition about "teamwork and ideas", you just won't be able to make everyone happy about either choice. But you can change it so it's more clearly singular or plural. The following is a singular subject:

  • Why the combination of teamwork and ideas wins over smarts.

A good article on this can be found here: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/compound-subjects.

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I think there's a plural/singular thing going on here. Many things win over another thing. A single thing wins over another thing. The "teamwork and ideas" refers to multiple things, so you have a plural and the word should reflect that. So correctly speaking:

"Why teamwork wins over smarts" [teamwork is singular]

"Why ideas win over smarts" [ideas is plural]

"Why teamwork and ideas win over smarts" [teamwork and ideas is plural]

"Why ideas and teamwork win over smarts" [ideas and teamwork is plural]

The question of "win" vs "won" is tense. If you're referring to something that has happened, "won" is probably more appropriate. If you're referring to a more abstract concept, perhaps without a single focal example, then "win" is more appropriate.

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I believe @gredd has thoroughly answered the part about singular versus plural. So let me just address "win" versus "won".

In English, we do not normally use the simple present tense when telling a story. Narrative is almost always given in the past tense. "We PLAYED a game with the team from Chicago. We WON because ..." The simple present tense is only used to, (a) describe something happening right at this moment, like "Someone is knocking on the door"; or (b) for things which go on for an extended period of time that includes the present, like "I drive a pick-up truck." That is, I have driven it in the past, I drive it now (not necessarily right this second but at this point in my life), and I will presumably drive it in the future.

So if you were describing one particular contest that took place in the past, you would say, "Teamwork and ideas WON over smarts". And when I say "past", I don't mean necessarily distant past, it could be ten minutes ago, but the contest is now over. If you are saying that this is a general principle of life, that you would say "Teamwork and ideas WIN over smarts". They have in the past, they do now, and they will in the future.

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