When we join two or more nouns with 'and', we usually use plural verbs, as in

Lara and Pete decide to get married.

I know there are exceptions. For example, when we think of them all as one thing.

But what about in this sentence?

Doing what you like and being satisfied with your career help/helps you feel better outside your workplace.

Are both correct depending on whether we consider them as a single unit or separate things, or is only one verb form correct?

  • 1
    The rule is that non-finite subject clauses take singular agreement except where the subject is a coordination of two or more non-finite clauses and provided the predicate treats the coordinates as expressing separate facts, in which case plural agreement is possible. It is arguable whether the second requirement is met here, so I'm inclined to say that singular agreement is preferable in this case.
    – BillJ
    Aug 16, 2021 at 12:53

1 Answer 1


As you already understand, it is the sense that is to be conveyed that determines the number of the verb rather than a rigid rule.

Bacon and eggs are what I like for breakfast.

People eat bacon with pancakes or French toast. In the preceding sentence, two things are thought of as distinct so the verb is plural.

Coffee and cream is what I drink in the morning.

In this second sentence, I am not trying to convey the thought that I put a cup of black coffee on my desk next to a cup of cream. I put a single cup filled with a mixture of cream and coffee on my desk. Thus, the verb is singular.

With respect to the specific sentence you asked about, the more likely verb is “helps” because it is hard to see how anyone who does not enjoy his or her work will be satisfied with his or her career. However, I do not think you can say that “help” would be wrong in every conceivable context. What controls is the thought to be expressed.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .