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I'm having an issue with subjects agreeing with a verb in a sentence. "Communications" sounds like a plural noun, while "processing" is singular, and the verb, "occur," doesn't seem to agree with "processing."

Which of the following is the most correct?

  1. All communications and processing in the software occur through TLS security.
  1. All communication and processing in the software occur through TLS security.

Or should I rearrange the sentence so it reads better, like so:

  1. All processing and communications in the software occur through TLS security.

Thank you!

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  • Number 2 is correct, IMO
    – Pete W
    Apr 29 at 17:08
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    Communication(s) and processing are two different things, so occur is correct whether or not you use the plural form of communication. Apr 29 at 18:49
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    The order of "processing" and "communications" is irrelevant. The answer lies in if "communications and processing" is collectively a single subject, like "ham and eggs" is in "Ham and eggs is my favorite breakfast." If so, "is" is required. If "communications and processing" isn't collectively a single subject but is the subject "communications" and the separate subject "processing" joined by "and," "are" is required. Only someone directly involved, hopefully the writer of the sentence, would know for sure which. Apr 30 at 0:13
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    Another example of a subject that contains "and" but requires a singular verb conjugation afterwards would be: "All research and development for the new product lines is on track and ahead of schedule." One would never say "are" since "research and development" in the business environment is considered to be collectively one noun. Apr 30 at 0:30
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  1. All communications and processing in the software occur through TLS security.
  1. All communication and processing in the software occur through TLS security.
  1. All processing and communications in the software occur through TLS security.

When two or more nouns are joined by and to form a compound subject, the order of the subjects is immaterial in determining the number of the verb.

As for determining whether this compound subject is singular or plural, we observe that communication/communications and processing seem to be related. It is not clear, however, whether the resultant collective noun should be treated as singular or plural. If we take what Kate has suggested, then the plural verb occur is right.

From Cambridge Dictionary, the plural form, communications, seems appropriate for the context here.

communications [ plural ]

the various methods of sending information between people and places, especially phones, computers, radio, etc.

Example 1 could be right.

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