Compound Subjects

  • Two nouns joined by and are normally treated as plural and take a plural verb:

Speed and accuracy are top of the list.

  • When the subject of the sentence is a single noun followed by another element tagged on by a phrase such as accompanied by, as well as, or together with, then the verb should be singular and not plural. In these cases, it's the singular noun that is the true subject:

The little girl, together with her friend Kerry, was filling her bucket with sand.

[subject] [singular verb]

Your booking form, accompanied by a cheque, needs to reach us by Monday.

[subject] [singular verb]

One easy way to check the agreement in these cases is to think of the sentence without the extra element: The little girl …was…; Your booking form …needs …

  • Some expressions are tricky because they are grammatically ambiguous, for example phrases such as more than one:

More than one in ten health club members ?admit/?admits to joining a gym for social reasons.

The subject of this sentence may at first glance appear to be singular. But it's actually plural, i.e. members rather than one member. You need to use the plural verb admit:

More than one in ten health club members admit to joining a gym for social reasons.

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