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What is the correct use?

His stool and urine ARE normal.

His stool and urine IS normal.

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Not really a dupe: apples are countable, and so is an orange. –  TimLymington Nov 18 '13 at 15:38
    
This isn't an issue pertaining to uncountable nouns, per se; It has more to do with the fact that they're compound subjects. Because of this, it should be plural. –  John Q Public Nov 22 '13 at 21:13
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marked as duplicate by Jim, Christi, choster, MrHen, RegDwigнt Nov 22 '13 at 23:28

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4 Answers

Unless the elements can be considered a whole, coordinated subjects take plural concord, so ‘His stool and urine are normal’.

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Stool and urine could, in the mind of the speaker, be part of a whole consisting of lab tests that, because they are normal, don't suggest a diagnosis. If the tests were ordered looking for evidence of occult blood loss and no blood was seen in either the stool or blood, I can see how a compound whole could exist as a construct in the mind of the speaker. The only reason I am mentioning this is because "The stool and urine is normal" does not sound, to my ear, as wrong as it ought to. –  Michael Owen Sartin Nov 17 '13 at 22:30
    
Yes,they could. That is the kind of difficulty that arises with questions that do not have any context. –  Barrie England Nov 18 '13 at 7:38
    
@MichaelOwenSartin For this reason, I don't think that either form is incorrect. Some might view urine and stool collectively as excrement, I suppose. Or perhaps the samples were taken at the same time, making it a one-time event for the speaker. To my ear, however, Barrie England's answer is correct. –  John Q Public Nov 22 '13 at 21:16
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This is a matter of the conjunction. If the conjunction is "and", then then subject is plural, and so you should use "are". However, of the conjunction does not form a plural statement, like "or", then you should use "is".

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Both "are" and "is" could be correct, depending on context. If the speaker is referring to both the stool and urine as a single set, then "is" can be used. If, however, the speaker is listing the two items as separate entities then "are" should be used.

For example, if diagnosing a condition that requires both a stool and urine test; both tests are sent to the lab together, and the results arrive together, one may say that the results of the collective whole are normal: "The 'stool and urine [test]' is normal".

On the other hand, if the two tests are separate, then they are not a collective whole. In this case "are" should be used: "The stool [tests] and urine [tests] are normal"

A good indicator of which to use would be the plurality of the implied "test". "Stool and urine test", being singular, indicates a collective whole which would use "is". "Stool and urine tests" indicate two independent items being listed, which would use "are".

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Since you are asking specifically about conjunctions of uncountable nouns and not about whether or not "stool and urine" should be considered a single set, it should be plural. It is the same as two singular nouns in a conjunction.

Pen is acceptable. Pencil is acceptable. Pen and pencil are both acceptable.

Music is fun. Stool is gross. Information is informational. Milk does a body good. Music, stool, information, and milk are examples of things that are uncountable nouns.

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