I have two sentences with two same subject 'the possession and exercise' but it has two different verbs, one is singular and other is plural.

Source: The possession and exercise of the skills of archery make one good as an archer. (plural)

Source: ...the possession and exercise of virtue is in the best interest of the virtuous person... (singular)

It would be more helpful if anyone with different examples.

  • make could be singular: I make bread. – djna Jun 17 '16 at 6:08
  • 1
    @djna - Yes, but not in this case, where the thing we're talking about is clearly third person. – stangdon Jun 17 '16 at 11:44
  • @stangdon So in this criterion, what should I do? – ARYF Jun 17 '16 at 12:42
  • Can we possess virtue yet not exercise it? Can we exercise virtue yet not possess it? Is not the possession and exercise of virtue the same thing? – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jun 17 '16 at 13:12

When we combine two things with and, we sometimes treat them as one thing, and so use a verb in the singular, for example

Fish and chips is still England's favorite take-home food Restaurant business vol. 79

There is no consistency though, and you will find many sentences where are is used about fish and chips.

Fish and chips are a highly nutritious balanced meal Papers by command, vol6

Here is an article explaining how to tell whether the two nouns are independent (and so a verb in the plural is required) or treated as one thing (and so a verb in the singular is required).

  • As mentioned in your source, can you divide the sentence "the possession and exercise of virtue is in the best interest of the virtuous person"? If I divide the sentence, I feel it is better to use 'are' here. Can you explain this? – ARYF Jun 17 '16 at 9:45
  • @ARYF: You can say "the possession of virtue is..." and you can say "the exercise of virtue is...": they both make sense. The two nouns are therefore independent, and so you should use are. – JavaLatte Jun 17 '16 at 12:29
  • 1
    If you scrutinize the source, is that grammatical mistake? – ARYF Jun 17 '16 at 12:41
  • @ARYF: According to the article I quoted, the second example should use are. But as TRomano asks, is it possible to possess virtue and not exercise it, or vice versa? That is a matter of opinion, so it's not a question of a grammatical mistake: it depends on the opinion of the writer, and maybe he wants to convey the impression that you can't have one without the other. – JavaLatte Jun 18 '16 at 3:39
  • If you edit this source, what will be your answer? – ARYF Jun 18 '16 at 4:05

Sometimes you connect to nouns with "and" and you consider them to be a unit, in which case the verb to use is singular.

For example: Bread and butter is my favourite breakfast.

I think that the person who wrote the sentence might mean that both having the skill plus exercising it blend into one requirement for somebody to be a good archer.

  • I am aware of what you quoted in the answer, which is the simplest form. I need in answer for complex sentences. – ARYF Jun 17 '16 at 9:07

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.