Example: In the given process, learning and development is equally important.

Can the verb here be singular (i.e. is)?

What is the basis for such exceptions? Can you kindly elaborate on this?

  • 2
    "Learning" and "development" are not really a single concept, so I'd say that the verb should be the plural "are".
    – BillJ
    Apr 24, 2020 at 9:08
  • 1
    It may be licensed by preceding context: 'We must remember that the child's happiness level is not the only factor. In the given process, learning and development is equally important.' This contrasts the child's 'happiness' with 'maturing', not considering 'learning' and 'development' (they're hardly disjoint, and one could question the felicitousness of the sentence) as separate processes (though neither is there total overlap in meaning, of course). Apr 24, 2020 at 12:43

2 Answers 2


There was recently a question asking the reverse of this. If the word learning and development were used in a way that development was just another way of saying learning then the double word could be referred to with is without a problem. I do not think these two words can manage that. The key is that they must appear as one meaning.

His habit of struggling, fighting is just a way of dealing with his frustrations.

I believe if the two words are properly matched and linked with a comma then is would not be inappropriate.

  • Thanks for the good contirbution. This made me think more about properly matching of words and linking with a comma.
    – Lalitha M
    Apr 24, 2020 at 6:18
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    No. Notional use of a singular verb-form (as suggested here) hinges on the two (etc) referents whose names are joined by 'and' forming what can be seen as a 'compound' , not being synonymous. 'Gin and tonic is my favourite drink.' 'Health and safety is our primary concern.' [A-&-B] not [A aka A']. And not, of course, {A, B}. '[Bacon and eggs] is my favourite breakfast.' 'Eggs and bacon are both hard to source at the moment.' Apr 24, 2020 at 12:50
  • 1
    Thanks @Edwin Ashworth for your reply.
    – Lalitha M
    Apr 25, 2020 at 3:15
  • Thanks EA for the clarification. I knew a more educated response would be forthcoming.
    – Elliot
    Apr 25, 2020 at 3:55

When there are two abstract nouns joined by 'and' in one sentence as the subject it takes a singular verb. Look at the example below.

The batsman's caution and aggression was remarkable.

  • 2
    This is far too broad-brush. Notional agreement rests on logic. *'Rudeness and failure to cooperate with colleagues is equally unacceptable.' *Defeating coronavirus and reopening the economy is equally important. (unless licensed by preceding context) Apr 24, 2020 at 12:02

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