The following sentence sounds incorrect to me when read aloud.

"Eating and playing like the locals are important for enjoying the festive atmosphere."

I tried diagramming it and am clear on the "are" (linking verb), "important" (adjective) and the "for enjoying the festive atmosphere" (prepositional phrase). "Eating" and "playing" are gerunds and that's when it gets confusing for me. The "and" suggests a compound subject, which would make the use of plural "are" correct, but the addition of the "like the locals" makes me feel like the entire section before the verb is a gerund phrase and is therefore singular. Which, if any, of the two is correct? Please help.

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    "Eating and playing like the locals" is a coordination. There are plenty of questions here dealing with the number of a coordinated subject (for example, this one). Btw, "is" is preferred in the answer linked.
    – Yay
    Jan 22, 2016 at 9:38

2 Answers 2


This sentence is an example of a compound subject, which should use the singular verb. "Eating and playing like the locals" is a single concept, so the use of the plural verb is incorrect.

In this example, the entire doubt could have been avoided if the author had reversed the order:

The festive atmosphere is best enjoyed by eating and playing like the locals.


The way it is structured, the sentence is ambiguous.

Eating and playing like the locals, or like the locals are?

Are is wrong, since eating and playing is a ... hmm ... singular ... concept?

Change it to "is," and you'll be using "is" twice in the same sentence. Actually, a combination of "are" and "is" ain't that great either.

important for enjoying is awkward.

How about this:

Enjoying the food and entertainment the way the locals do can help one appreciate the festive atmosphere.

If you're not comfortable with one, change it to you.

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