The following sentence appears in a letter I am editing:

If this date and time are not convenient please contact me at ...

Structurally, this seems okay, but it feels very awkward. Shouldn't it read:

If this date and time is not convenient please contact me at ...

  • 2
    I'd say "are". But there isn't a "should": use whatever you are happiest with. – Colin Fine Oct 3 '13 at 17:35
  • I think "date and time" is a special case because a lot of people read it as one object; not a list of two objects. – MrHen Oct 3 '13 at 21:05
  • 3
    Not a duplicate as this context is different. The correct verb would be is. Here, the phrase date and time refers to a single specific moment in time. The author is referring to neither the date nor the time, not even the two as a list at all, but a moment in time defined by this date and time. – Kris Oct 4 '13 at 13:22

In this particular context, is would be a better option. The idea is to use is when two words joined by and are considered more or less as a single entity or idea. For example, 'bread and butter is my breakfast'. When two different ideas or things are linked by and, we use are(plural form). Consider the widely used proverb 'time and tide wait for none' which also uses a plural verb form(i.e wait). Here, both date and time refer to the same idea, that is time. So is is the right option. Hope that was useful!

  • @ Aishwarya A R: "time and tide wait for none" uses the PLURAL form of the verb. By saying: "Here, both date and time refer to the same idea, that is time. So "is" is the right option", you're not only misleading the OP, but contradicting yourself! – Sankarane Jun 4 '15 at 11:30
  • Many people use 'Time and tide waits for none' too. If you consider time and tide('tide' taken in its literal meaning), they are two different concepts and you tend to use a plural form. If time and tide(which basically meant season or time itself when it was coined) refer to the same idea in your view, you can use a singular form. – Aishwarya A R Jun 4 '15 at 12:22

If you use the word "or", instead of "and" here, your problem will automatically be solved.

There are two scenarios when the reader need to request for a date/time change:

  • The reader may find the date does work him/her, then you need to change both the date and the time for him/her. (In this case, date and time can be viewed as one item, because they are bound together. Once the date changes, the time automatically changes.)
  • The reader may find the date is acceptable, but the time does not work for him/her.Then, you can keep the date and change only the time. (In this case, date and time are viewed as two items.)

I suggest you edit the sentence to "If this date or time is not convenient please contact me at..." So, the reader has the freedom to change either the date, or the time. The time will of course be rescheduled once the date is changed. Then, it would be obvious here for you to use "is" here.

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