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Suppose I have a list:

  • 2 oranges,
  • 3 kiwis, and
  • 1 (+1) apples.

The second apple was added to the basket by someone else, but is of equal importance. Is the plural of apples correct, or should it be singular?

I have searched and could not find an answer, but I am also not sure how exactly to search for this question. I think these are similar questions, but am not quite sure how to relate it to this case:

Finally, this question Should I pluralize based on an item in parentheses is very similar, but in my case there is no flow to break, and both apples are the subject (?).

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  • The question is quite a way from concerning the punctuating of normal running text, and is arguably better asked on say Mathematics. I'd say notional agreement requires 'apples' here. But I'd also use the plural form with say ½ (+ ½) pork pies. May 2, 2020 at 14:45
  • "1 or 2 apples"
    – Hot Licks
    May 2, 2020 at 15:27
  • 1
    Does this answer your question? Do parenthetical statements change subject-verb agreement? May 2, 2020 at 19:45

1 Answer 1

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Bulletpoint lists are broadly governed by the lax and varied guidance on headlines. They are there to supply information, not provide examples of grammar.

If you want some justification for choosing one form over another, ask yourself

Q: "In reality, and as a fact, how many apples do I have?"

A: "One plus another one."

Q: "Is one plus one, two?

A: "Yes."

Q: "Is "two apples" plural?"

A: "Yes." - use the plural.


The alternative is to speak the list as if it were a sentence:

"I have 2 oranges, 3 kiwis, and an apple, and then another one."

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  • So you'd use '½ (+ ½) pork pie' ? May 2, 2020 at 15:08
  • @EdwinAshworth. I note the question does not refer to halves. Had it done, I might (or might not) have answered (and argued) differently. :)
    – Greybeard
    May 2, 2020 at 15:20
  • So, the question is POB. May 2, 2020 at 16:00
  • ................ POB?
    – Greybeard
    May 2, 2020 at 16:18
  • In-house shorthand. 'Primarily opinion-based' (an old explicit C-V reason; usually means 'there is no single 'right' answer; recommendations from 'authorities' / contributors will conflict (in your case, depending on the exact nature of the parenthetical). May 2, 2020 at 16:46

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