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Would "is" or "are" be more correct in this sentence?

Most acute pharyngitis and laryngitis is/are caused by viral or, more rarely, bacterial infection.

I'm not sure if the verb should agree with "most" or with "pharyngitis and laryngitis."

Another sentence I'm having trouble with is this one:

Expert evaluation and diagnosis that ultimately directly or indirectly leads to therapeutic intervention is the task of the contemporary otolaryngologist.

Because the subject includes "evaluation and diagnosis," should the verbs be plural? i.e.

Expert evaluation and diagnosis that ultimately directly or indirectly lead to therapeutic intervention are the tasks of the contemporary otolaryngologist.

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Scott is a new contributor to this site. Take care in asking for clarification, commenting, and answering. Check out our Code of Conduct.
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  • 1
    Where are these quotes from? The first at least is badly written.
    – Xanne
    Commented Jul 10 at 2:47
  • Two subjects uses are.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 10 at 14:54

1 Answer 1

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In the first sentence:

"Most acute pharyngitis and laryngitis are caused by viral or, more rarely, bacterial infection."

Here, the verb "are" agrees with the plural subject "pharyngitis and laryngitis," as they are two separate conditions.

In the second sentence:

"Expert evaluation and diagnosis that ultimately directly or indirectly leads to therapeutic intervention is the task of the contemporary otolaryngologist."

Here, the verb "is" agrees with the singular subject "task." Even though the subject includes two activities ("evaluation and diagnosis"), it is treated as a singular concept because they are closely related and represent a single task.

So, the correct forms are:

"are" in the first sentence. "is" in the second sentence.

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Marlene495 is a new contributor to this site. Take care in asking for clarification, commenting, and answering. Check out our Code of Conduct.
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  • Yes; I'd go so far as to add a second 'most' (and a second 'acute' if applicable: 'Most acute pharyngitis and most [acute] laryngitis are caused by viral or, more rarely, bacterial infection.' The extra 'padding' (and/or perhaps the closer parallelism) at the very least seems to ameliorate the 'laryngitis are caused' string. // Notional agreement with coordinated subjects has been addressed several times, eg at notional ... agreement. But a novel example. Commented Jul 10 at 13:51

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