10

Which following sentence is correct, and why?

  • Mapping and combining data is hard.
  • Mapping and combining data are hard.

More generally, I would like to know whether a subject of the form V-ing and V-ing should be followed by a singular verb or a plural verb.

3
  • 1
    As asked in one of the answers, are these two different tasks or a single task?
    – Catija
    Jul 12, 2015 at 22:05
  • 1
    Both are correct, depending on the context Jul 13, 2015 at 15:31
  • @Catija These are two subsequent tasks that together form a larger task. Jul 14, 2015 at 4:15

3 Answers 3

17

Are you thinking of them as one action or two?

When you say "Mapping and combining data is hard," you mean that the single task of mapping and combining is difficult. When you say "mapping and combining data are hard," you mean that each of these separate tasks is hard.

1
  • 3
    +1. I'd add that "Mapping and combining data are hard" is very unlikely to be what's intended, since it means "mapping is hard and combining data is hard" (not "mapping data is hard and combining data is hard").
    – ruakh
    Jul 13, 2015 at 3:22
11

It depends:

Sneezing and keeping your eyes open is impossible.

but:

Swimming and surfing are very popular this summer.

In your case, I'd go for is.

2
  • Thanks, it looks like it depends on whether the actions described by the verbs are sequential then, which makes sense. Jul 12, 2015 at 17:32
  • The former is actually a myth and, in this case, "and" is being used to mean "while", so I'm not sure it's necessarily the same as the question being asked.
    – Catija
    Jul 12, 2015 at 22:04
10

Just to illustrate Glorfindel's answer:

sneezing and holding your eyes open is impossible

translates to

sneezing and holding your eyes open at the same time is impossible.


sneezing and holding your eyes open are impossible

translates to

sneezing and holding your eyes open are both impossible.

2
  • You're right. Fixed that up.
    – Jasper
    Jul 13, 2015 at 3:06
  • 1
    The insertion of "both" in the second sentence really clearly shows the difference well. Now, if only we had a similar construction for the first sentence, we would have the perfect way of explaining the difference...
    – Jasper
    Jul 13, 2015 at 13:31

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