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Which is the correct one?

On average, the polyunsaturated fat content in one teaspoon of the olive oil and canola oil is the same

On average, the polyunsaturated fat content in one teaspoon of the olive oil and canola oil are the same

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    is because the polyunsaturated fat content [in one teaspoon of the olive oil and canola oil] is singular I think. – Santi Santichaivekin Aug 19 '15 at 17:37
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On average, the polyunsaturated fat content in one teaspoon of olive oil and one teaspoon of canola oil is the same.

On average, the polyunsaturated fat content in two teaspoons of olive oil and two teaspoons of canola oil are the same.

The second one might sound more natural to the ear (a teaspoon is, two teaspoons are). However, I've incorrectly parsed the sentence. As @Santi pointed out in a comment, the teaspoons part of these sentences belong to the the prepositional phrase beginning with in, so we should really be keying on the subject of the sentence:

On average, the polyunsaturated fat content is the same.

That's true, and that's the right way to say it, no matter how many teaspoons (or tablespoons, cups, or milliliters) of oil we have:

On average, the polyunsaturated fat content in eight liters of olive oil and and eight liters of canola oil is the same.

If that sounds too awkward, then restructure the sentence such that there are fewer words between the subject and predicate.

  • I disagree with your reasoning. Case in point: "My name and his name is the same" would be correct according to your logic. – Dan Henderson Aug 20 '15 at 8:42
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    @Dan - Your example has a compound subject, so I would parse that as: (My name and his name) are the same. The O.P.'s original sentence is different, because it's a compound object in the prepositional phrase: The polyunsaturated fat content [in (one teaspoon of olive oil and one teaspoon of canola oil)] is the same. – J.R. Aug 20 '15 at 10:24
  • That would be true if we were taking about the sum of the polyunsaturated fat content of both teaspoons as a single quantity, but in that case, there'd have to be another quantity to which we're comparing that sum. Since we're comparing the polyunsaturated fat content of one teaspoon to the polyunsaturated fat content of the other, it is, in fact, a compound subject. – Dan Henderson Aug 20 '15 at 12:28
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    @Dan - I'm not sure that's the case with the way this particular sentence is structured. Maybe someone else can weigh in, because I think we'll both agree this is a bit tricky. – J.R. Aug 20 '15 at 13:10
  • @Dan I wouldn't say either; I'd use "My name is the same as his" or "We have the same name" as they both feel more natural. But, I'd argue for "My name and his name are the same" because "My son and my daughter are alike" leads me to use the plural form. – Andrew Lott Nov 12 '15 at 15:47
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is is specifically used for singular things (the subject of the sentence represents something that is singular--one thing) and are for plural things (the subject of the sentence represents something that is plural--many things). But be prepared to hear something like this from native speakers: "there's a lot of them" or "there's a bunch of cars in front of my house". That's just an example of daily English which oftentimes tends to disregard the prescriptive rules of standard English grammar.

First of all, I would completely rewrite your original sentence because they way you have it written right now sounds a little bit awkward, to say the least. I guess something like the following would do, though I have no idea what polyunsaturated fats are:

On average, the amount of polyunsaturated fats found in one teaspoon of olive oil is roughly equivalent to that found in one teaspoon of canola oil.

the amount is the grammatical subject of the sentence and it's one thing. Thus, we should use is.

On the other hand, if you still insist on using are, we can easily make the subject plural. Just like this:

On average, the amount of polyunsaturated fats in one teaspoon of olive oil and the amount of polyunsaturated fats in one teaspoon of canola oil are the same.

But that's rather a run-on sentence. I would highly recommend sticking with the first version.

  • To add (or to clarify): if we had "the ... content in one teaspoon of olive oil and that of canola oil" then we should use "are" since there are two. The that is a substitute for "the ... content in one teaspoon". – Victor Bazarov Aug 19 '15 at 19:10

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