IS vs ARE
Consider the following examples:
1. Drinking and driving IS illegal
2. Drinking and driving ARE illegal
3. Stealing and murdering IS illegal
4. Stealing and murdering ARE illegal
According to me, #1 and #4 are correct. The "rule" that I apply is that if the two preceding verbs are combined into a single activity, then the singular form of the joining verb (IS) should be used. If the two preceding verbs are independent actions, then the plural form of the joining verb (ARE) should be used. No one in my office agrees with me, and I cannot find an authoritative guide anywhere online.
I agree with you. Drinking isn't illegal, and driving isn't illegal. It's only when they are combined into a single activity that it becomes illegal. Stealing and murder are illegal individually.
This may help your argument in the office.
Stealing and murdering ARE illegal. TRUE
Stealing is illegal. TRUE
Murdering is illegal. TRUE
Drinking and driving IS illegal. TRUE
Drinking IS illegal. FALSE
Driving IS illegal. FALSE
As Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage explains, “When the nouns form ‘a collective idea’ or ‘a oneness of idea,’ the singular verb is appropriate”
|link comment||edited May 22 '13 at 11:15 Lewis Neidhardt Grammarly Fellow|
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