A bag of carrots and half a tomato "was/were" sitting on the kitchen counter.

A bag of carrots and half a tomato was sitting on the kitchen counter. Is this correct?

I was informed that the main subject is "bag," so I should be using the singular verb. Also, is "of carrots and half a tomato" the prepositional phrase? or is it just "of carrots"? Is this correct as well? Please advise.

  • Related: english.stackexchange.com/questions/118359/…
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Aug 19, 2014 at 3:55
  • I count two subjects. Dunno where you learned to count.
    – user85526
    Aug 19, 2014 at 4:05
  • lol I thought so...thanks for your guidance! I am currently taking an outline grammar course for fun. Apparently, i am wasting my money on this course. Please see below for the instructor's response: "The subject of the sentence will not appear within a prepositional phrase. So first, you must cross out the prepositional phrase to find the subject: "of carrots and half a tomato" What is left is "a bag". "Bag" is the true subject of the sentence. It is singular (only one).So, the verb must also be singular: was" Aug 19, 2014 at 4:07
  • @JasonSmith: If the sentence could mean that, it would be ambiguous and there would be two correct answers. But you cannot have "a bag of half a tomato". It is therefore clear to a native speaker that "half a tomato" is not a joint object of the preposition, as the instructor supposes, but a joint subject of the verb "was sitting". Cross out the prepositional phrase, sure; it is "of carrots". You are left with "a bag and half a tomato".
    – Ben Voigt
    Aug 19, 2014 at 4:27
  • 1
    Jason Smith, conjoined subjects typically take plural agreement. This is no exception and were is the better choice, but consider sentences like "drinking and driving is a dangerous combination" or "peanut butter and jelly is my favorite flavor". Unfortunately there is no simple and general answer. @GeorgePompidou The subject is the noun phrase a bag of carrots and half a tomato. I'm sure the OP can count; please Be Nice.
    – user28567
    Aug 19, 2014 at 4:59


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