What do you do when your sight, smell, and hearing is useless?

I encountered this sentence when I was reading a newspaper. This seemed very strange to me, for there are three clear items listed in the sentence. Why did the author use "is" instead of "are"?

  • 2
    Personally, I wouldn't... so I'm not sure that's a good example.
    – Catija
    Sep 19, 2015 at 23:28
  • Needs more yours to justify using is: "...your sight, your smell and your hearing is useless?"
    – lurker
    Jan 3, 2016 at 0:52

2 Answers 2


The author used "is" because he (or she) was mistaken, and the editor missed it. "Sight, smell and hearing" clearly form a plural subject, and "are" is the proper form in this case.


If the author considers "sight, smell, and hearing" as one set, he or she may use a singular verb. "Sight, smell, and hearing" could be considered as the "one set of three major senses" for example. In other words, he is speaking about a situation in which "sight, smell, and hearing" are not understood as three individual senses but as one set or package of three senses.


What do you do when water, orange juice, and milk is not enough?

Here the author, me, is not considering water, orange juice and milk as three separate liquids but as one set of three liquids that together is not enough.

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