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I wrote a sentence which was corrected by my teacher. When I asked them to explain, they weren't very clear.

Here's the sentence I wrote:

Busy restaurants and overcrowding on trains increase the risk of infection.

My teacher's correction:

Busy restaurants and overcrowding on trains increases the risk of infection.

My teacher told me that 'increase' needs present simple 's'. I am aware that in normal circumstances a gerund as the subject of the sentence requires the 's', but my sentence has multiple subjects.

To me, the noun phrase and gerund phrase act as 2 separate items and so we should consider the subject of the sentence to be plural. Thus, the 's' is not required.

Are there any rules taking priority here?

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    Your teacher is simply mistaken. Some "multi-element noun phrases", such as Fish and chips is my favourite can be treated as syntactically singular (more so in British than American English). But this only works in contexts where the multiple elements can naturally be thought of as a "single collective thing" (in my example, a meal). Since that doesn't apply to busy restaurants and overcrowding on trains, the verb form must reflect the fact that there are "multiple" subjects. Commented Apr 29, 2022 at 11:40
  • FumbleFingers is right. Perhaps if you were to edit this to read "Both busy restaurants and overcrowding on trains..." it might make it more clear to the teacher that you are considering busy restaurants and overcrowding on trains as multiple subjects.
    – Davo
    Commented Apr 29, 2022 at 15:17

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In a larger context, 'increases' might make sense, but in almost all situations I'm with you in supporting 'increase', as those are two independent things.

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