Based on an earlier question which was deemed a duplicate, I'm submitting a differently worded question which I'm certain has not been asked before.

The following two sentences, in my opinion, say pretty much the same thing. (If you think they do not, feel free to let me know, and why.) One sentence is as I found it, and the other sentence is my rewording of the original sentence. I won't tell you which sentence is which.

  • “What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.”

  • "What you see and what you hear depend a great deal on where you are standing. They also depend on what sort of person you are."

Is the way in which one sentence is worded preferable grammatically or stylistically to the way in which the other sentence is worded, or do we have a case of "six of one, half dozen of the other"?


They're both grammatical and in acceptable style, they just have slightly different nuances.

If you use the singular verb, you're treating "what you see and what you hear" as a single, combined concept, your entire sensory experience.

If you use the plural verb, you're considering them independently, like saying

What you see depends on where you're standing, and what you hear also depends on where you're standing.

  • They is asking about style, not grammar. Whether the uninflected verb form be understood plural indicative, singular subjunctive or bare infinitive, "what you see depend" in place of gerund, depend on interpretation (not really though, this is just a test). – vectory Dec 28 '19 at 4:14
  • They asked about both grammar and style. – Barmar Dec 28 '19 at 4:19
  • "they are ... grammatical ... style"? I'm not trolling, seriously. – vectory Dec 28 '19 at 4:49

depends is preferable because it clearly marks the verb as indicative present tense head verb. And as everyone else said, it is entirely legal, that is, common enough so it cannot be bared. As I tried indicate before, an uninflected verb is very too ambiguous over various grammatical functions and can create (better: potentially create-s) seemin garden path sentences half way in, though this is rarely a problem.

Anyhow, "what" may well reference the same object in both occasions. Indeed, "what" always commands singular, if the plurality isn't strictly known beforehand, so, unless a subordinate plural noun appears in the sentence: what is prepared for breakfast?; but: what are your commands? The mere repition doesn't really change that, if "what you see and hear" is logically equivalent;

in maths this would be called the distributive property: w(x, y) = w(x), w(y). What's more, assuming the model using less symbols were more efficient, I'd assume contrary to @barmer's answer that the given surface form is f(w(x, w(y))), not f(w(x)) f(w(y)), f being the matrix clause. This means what what you hear ..., which of course seems a bit silly, but reduplication is the most simple way of enumeration.


What you see and what you hear depends if taken as a single subject, it is correct both grammatically and stylistically.

What you see and what you hear depend - here it is grammatically correct if I am talking about two different activities but not stylistically, as the pronoun used in the latter part they doesn't seem to be stylistically correct.

Both the actions are actually performed by the same person and that is you, so it is always better to use it instead of they. At least stylistically I would refer them as one.

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