According to subject-verb agreement rules, compound subjects with words joined by "and" take a singular verb if all the parts represent a single unit as in:

Macaroni and cheese is my favorite food.

While I was speaking with a native speaker of English he said, "my throat and tongue hurts". So I want to know whether he made a mistake or or the sentence actually qualifies as requiring a singular verb, and if so, on what grounds since the tongue and the throat are two separate parts of the human body?

2 Answers 2


The more practical question is whether we think of the items as one thing or two. That is what really dictates which verb form to use.

“Macaroni and cheese” is well known as a single dish. We don’t think of them as two separate items. Therefore, it is treated as singular. OTOH, if we were thinking about the ingredients in that dish, they would still be separate things and thus plural.

“My throat and tongue” are adjacent, so it’s possible that your friend was having a single sensation of pain in that general area, rather than two separate pains. If so, then the singular form “hurts” could be valid.


"Throat and tongue" are two separate things. They aren't a recognized compound word, so the correct verb form is "hurt".

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