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Is give or gives correct in the following sentence:

Substantial experience combined with my programming skills give(s) me the expertise needed to complete the job efficiently.

Is "combined with" equivalent to "and", making "experience" and "skills" a compound subject? If so the verb should be plural.

If its not, is it governed by the "closest subject rule" and "skills" make it plural?

marked as duplicate by Mari-Lou A, Glorfindel, user66974, Dog Lover, NVZ May 2 '17 at 4:46

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    If you go to the trouble of saying "combined with" instead of "and", then you must have a reason, and it's up to your audience to figure out why. If you don't want to leave them guessing, take advantage of the fact that if X combines with Y, a new product is formed, called their combination. Brown sugar combined with lemon juice provides [singular] a surprising finish to her martini. – John Lawler Feb 11 '15 at 16:55
  • Yes; it's close enough to 'in combination with' to see what makes sense. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 12 '15 at 8:53

It should be 'give'. 'combined with' performs the action as 'and'. So it should be 'give' as 'Substantial experience and my programming skills give me the expertise needed to do the job efficiently'. 'Substantial experience' actually can refer to 'experience' of someone else, not me!

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    I disagree. The subject of the sentence is "Substantial experience combined with my programming skills" taken as a unit. The "combined with my programming skills" can be viewed as a parenthetical. – Robusto Feb 11 '15 at 16:18
  • If the phrase was parenthetical, there would at least be a comma indicating that the phrase was parenthetical. – Val Feb 11 '15 at 16:21
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    Commas are not always necessary. – Robusto Feb 11 '15 at 16:47
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    'Substantial experience, combined with my programming skills' is still one. 'Substantial experience combined with my project skills' is not! – Raghuraman R Feb 11 '15 at 17:18
  • But coordinated subjects may take a singular verb as well as a plural one: Bacon and eggs is on the menu. / Bacon and eggs are both getting more expensive. So " 'combined with' performs the action as 'and' " still leaves an uncertainty. And what is your authority for what you say? – Edwin Ashworth Feb 11 '15 at 19:32

http://www.dailynews.co.zw/articles/2014/11/30/depressed-economy-hits-property-sector - 'Tight liquidity conditions coupled with the deteriorating economy continue to hit the property sector’s growth'. In this case, we do see 'continue' and not 'continues'. Also google search of 'coupled with' always shows examples, where coupled with is indeed preceded by a comma.

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    This example is different because the noun phrase before "coupled with" is plural: "Tight liquidity conditions". So any rule aside from mere proximity would call for the use of a plural verb. – sumelic Apr 25 '17 at 13:17

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