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Is this sentence correct with plural crises:

  1. The economic and health crises can be tackled together.

or should it instead be this one with a singular crisis:

  1. The economic and health crisis can be tackled together.

Bear in mind that the economic crisis and the health crisis mentioned here are intended to be two completely independent and unrelated crises, never normally mentioned together.

  • Hello, John. Surely your final, explicatory sentence shows that you already know the answer? But to emphasise that 'these are two completely independent and unrelated crises' I'd add a second 'the'. 'The health and the safety of our workers are our prime concerns.' // 'Health and safety is top of the agenda.' – Edwin Ashworth Jul 4 '19 at 14:53
  • If you know that you are speaking of two things, then you need to use the plural crises. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Jul 4 '19 at 14:57
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No matter what you write, there is room for ambiguity, but mainly in a lawyerly sense; people who wanted to understand either of those sentences would understand.

If you choose the plural form

The economic and health crises can be tackled together.

it's fine grammatically, but it could also mean that there were several economic crises and several health crises.

If you write

the economic and health crisis can be tackled together

it has the ambiguity you already mentioned of perhaps implying that it is one crisis which is both an economical and a health one at the same time. But from the context with "tackled together" it becomes clear that these must be two separate crises. So it's understandable if not stylistically so good.

Another possibility thought it sounds a bit mouthy:

The economic and the health crisis can be tackled together.

  • Or for ultimate clarity: The economic crisis and the health crisis – Dog Lover Jul 4 '19 at 16:25
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    I'd say 'The economic and health crisis can be tackled together' is unacceptable here. It can only mean that groups addressing the joint crisis can work together to tackle it. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 4 '19 at 16:30
  • @Edwin Ashworth. I'd prefer to argue that it's ambiguous and not so good stylistically. Something like: The pen and pencil can be bought together. – S Conroy Jul 5 '19 at 13:15
  • That's fine, of course. But the example is more akin to 'The grey and green car can both be seen on the sliproad'. Unidiomatic to the point of unacceptability: a deletion too far. 'The grey car and the green car can both be seen on the sliproad' (there are other versions) is what's needed – Edwin Ashworth Jul 5 '19 at 15:08
  • Hm. I agree my example isn't good, but in yours 'grey and green' are much closer than 'health and economic'. Perhaps: "The android and apple phone can be bought together". – S Conroy Jul 5 '19 at 15:15

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