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Is it need or needs?

  • Highway 68 and Robinson Canyon Road need your support.
  • Highway 68 and Robinson Canyon Road needs your support.

I voted needs.

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Coordinated subjects such as "John and Mary" or "Highway 68 and Robinson Canyon Road" are generally considered plural and are followed by a plural verb form: John and Mary are ... and Highway 68 and Robinson Canyon Road need ... .

Occasionally the compound is followed by a singular form:

My brother and best friend is in trouble.

Here the brother is the best friend. Since we are only referring to one person, the singular is needed.

Another example of a coordinated subject followed by a singular verb is when the two nouns are conceptualised as a single item:

Fish and chips is my favourite meal.

A cap and gown is mandatory for Commencement.

If "Highway 68 and Robinson Canyon Road" is conceptualized as a single project in need of support, then the singular verb (needs) could be used. If the two roads are conceived as separately in need of support, then the plural need is used.

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  • I'd argue that, whereas fossilised expressions such as 'fish and chips' are accepted as unitary unless context decrees that that is the wrong analysis ('Fish and chips are both overpriced at the moment'), it is non-standard to treat arbitrary lists as such without context. Also, this issue has been addressed before ( english.stackexchange.com/questions/117346/… ). – Edwin Ashworth Aug 31 '13 at 8:05
  • @Edwin. I agree. The acceptability of the singular verb here is dependent on some prior contextualization, whereby, for example, Highway 68 leads directly into Robinson Canyon Road and the coordinated subject stands for something like "the campaign to develop Highway 68 and Robinson Canyon Road". Decontextualized as above, the singular form appears ungrammatical. – Shoe Aug 31 '13 at 8:20
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Looking at it from the outside, I'd go for "need." Because there are two names and they are joined by "and," which are considered plural and therefore the base form of the verb "need" is appropriate.

But as Shoe mentioned, if the name is something that is written plural but refers to a single entity, then "needs" is the appropriate verb there.

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One element takes 'need'.
Two elements or more takes 'needs'.
Highway 68 and Robinson Canyon Road need your support.✔

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  • I think you switched something around in that first sentence there … – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 31 '13 at 9:00
  • Thank you! I know the right answer is: Please Help Highway 68 and Robinson Canyon Road! :-) – koala Aug 31 '13 at 13:59
  • If the two elements are a mixture, yes. If they're a 'compound' like 'fish and chips', no. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 12 '15 at 8:45

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