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, 2016 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, 2016 at 11:44
  • @stangdon So in this criterion, what should I do?
    – ARYF
    Jun 17, 2016 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?
    – TimR
    Jun 17, 2016 at 13:12

2 Answers 2


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, 2016 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, 2016 at 12:29
  • 1
    If you scrutinize the source, is that grammatical mistake?
    – ARYF
    Jun 17, 2016 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, 2016 at 3:39
  • If you edit this source, what will be your answer?
    – ARYF
    Jun 18, 2016 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, 2016 at 9:07

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .