This question is not a dublicate of "Singular or plural verb form where subject includes a 'parenthetical' element" since the latter discusses only compound subjects with "as well as".

Is the singular or the plural form correct?

Scientific research in general and numerical mathematics in particular is/are a team effort.

What about a version with commas?

Scientific research in general, and numerical mathematics in particular, is/are a team effort.


I agree with tchrist that this question is very similar to Singular or plural verb form where subject includes a "parenthetical" element, although the fact that the hinging term is and here (as opposed to as well as there) may make some difference.

Interestingly, the accepted answer (written by Barrie England) to the earlier question opens by suggesting that if the connecting term had been and instead of as well as, the answer would have been simpler:

The question seems to me to turn on whether or not as well as is a coordinator. If it is, then the following verb behaves as if and had been used instead, that is, the subject becomes plural and so does the verb. But as well as says something that and does not. And places the two items on an equal footing, but as well as gives grammatical priority to the first item.

But as Edwin Ashworth notes in a comment beneath that answer,

Even 'and' does not demand plural concord. Health and safety is our primary concern. / Bacon and eggs is on the menu. // Bacon and eggs are both getting rather expensive. There's a judgement call on whether 'A and B' are / is being considered as separate items or a combined whole.

Turning to the example that the OP raises here,

Scientific research in general and numerical mathematics in particular is/are a team effort.

it seems to me that the author's sense of the relationship between "scientific research in general" and "numerical mathematics in particular" goes a long way toward determining which form of the verb is appropriate. If the author is speaking mainly about "scientific research in general," and the allusion to "numerical mathematics in particular" is a sort of parenthetical instance illustrating the main point, I would expect the verb to be singular. We could help convey this sense by breaking out the example with em dashes or parentheses. For example:

Scientific research in general—and numerical mathematics in particular—is a team effort.

On the other hand if "scientific research" and "numerical mathematics" have equal weight in the author's mind, but one is the general case and the other the specific, I think it makes sense to use the plural verb. In this situation we could emphasize the equivalence of the two subjects by putting the in general/in particular qualifiers in parentheses:

Scientific research (in general) and numerical mathematics (in particular) are a team effort.

Of course, you don't have to use punctuation signals to help make your sense clear, if you don't want to; the verb you choose sends the strongest signal about how you understand the relationship of scientific research to numerical mathematics in the sentence. But appropriate punctuation can help readers see how your verb choice serves your understanding of that relationship.


It has to be is, because it has to agree with scientific research, which is singular. (Numerical mathematics, even though it is also singular, is in a parenthetical phrase and is therefore not relevant for subject-verb agreement in this case).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.