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In the following sentence:

It was tasteful – not boastful – but sent the clear message about the industry leader and gold standard that is Acme.

Should that bolded word be "is" or "are"?

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  • How many things are being discussed?
    – Hot Licks
    Jun 6 '19 at 17:27
  • That's kind of my question... I know this would be correct: "Acme is the leader and standard". But when the sentence is inverted I'm not sure if it's "The leader and standard is Acme" or if it's "The leader and standard are Acme"
    – Eliezer
    Jun 6 '19 at 17:31
  • But are "industry leader" and "gold standard" referring to one thing or two. Would it be "The two-times world champion are"??
    – Hot Licks
    Jun 6 '19 at 17:33
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Based on @HotLicks instructive comments (thank you!), since it's a singular subject, the correct word choice would be is.

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  • 2
    Hello, Eliezer. It's a coordinated noun group. But it's notionally unitary. cf Fish and chips is off the menu. Jun 6 '19 at 17:59
  • It's only a singular subject because you are interpreting it that way. I would too—but it's not always the case. (And it could be interpreted as two things.) Consider this: The industry leader and popular celebrity who [is / are] tall. It's unclear from the words alone if if the sentence describes one person or two people. Unless you make a mistake, the verb form you choose determines if you mean something to be singular or plural. In this case, perhaps there is an industry leader who is Acme and a gold standard that is Acme. In that case, your sentence would use are. Jun 7 '19 at 16:14
  • Note that if you know it's a singular subject, then there is no need to ask the question in the first place. (But you should also add that information into the question.) Otherwise, I would turn my comment into an answer of my own—where the subject is ambiguous. Jun 7 '19 at 16:18

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