I wrote "How is conditions being unfair not an issue?" instead of "How are conditions being unfair not an issue?" as I believe the subject of the sentence is 'conditions being unfair' rather than 'conditions'.

However, I'm not quite sure. Which is it?

  • 1
    It should be singular; I parse it as something like "How is the unfairness of conditions not an issue?", that is "The unfairness of these conditions is certainly an issue, isn't it?" Jun 27 '14 at 15:18
  • parsing it that way makes way more sense. thanks guys!
    – Colourful
    Jun 27 '14 at 16:04

To answer your question, yes, it is grammatically correct. Replace "conditions being unfair" with "it" and you will see what I mean. As mentioned above, though, it would be better to simply reword the sentence.

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    Welcome! You might consider editing your answer to explain why (presumably because "being" is a gerund) it's appropriate to replace "conditions being unfair" with "it", not with "them". That would significantly improve the quality of the answer; right now it could use just a bit more explanation. Jun 27 '14 at 16:33

In a non-searchable and potentially ephemeral comment to the original posting, John Lawler presented the following answer:

Yes, but it’s very complex and convoluted syntactically, and will take anybody some time to parse.

And, given the current degree of grammatical knowledge among English speakers, about half would judge it ungrammatical anyway, or at least fail to parse it correctly.

Better space it out with a transformation, like Extraposition, or two. It’s only a rhetorical question, after all, and rhetorical questions are sposta be easy to understand.

I’ve marked this posting Community Wiki because it is John’s answer not my own, and so I deserve no reputation from it.


It's valid either way. The phrase "conditions being unfair" can mean one of two things:

1) It can mean more than one condition that is unfair.

2) It can mean the state of having unfair conditions.

By using "is" or "are" you force either of these two meanings, both of which are perfectly valid.

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