In the following sentence should I use 'has' or 'have' (words inside [ ] omitted)? Why?

Tension at adhesions and [tension at] junctions reportedly have/has opposing effects.

  • 1
    Tension in two different places is two different things, so use 'have'. May 25, 2021 at 7:34

1 Answer 1


When you omit the words you enclosed in [ ], it could seem to have the effect of grouping them together. "Tension at adhesions and junctions" would sound like one singular thing, because 'tension' is a non-count noun.

If you were referring to a group of things as a singular group, you would use "has" - but clearly that is not what you want to do. You are trying to contrast two things that have opposing effects.

There are two ways you could make it clear you are contrasting two sets of tensions without repeating the noun. Firstly, you can omit it but include the second "at":

Tension at adhesions and at junctions reportedly have opposing effects.

Or, you could pluralise 'tension' and say:

Tensions at adhesions and junctions reportedly have opposing effects.

Like many non-count nouns, you can pluralise 'tensions' to refer to marked instances of tension, just as you can refer to quantified amounts of water as "waters".

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