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compound subject

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compound subject
Definition:

A subject that consists of two or more simple subjects joined by a coordinating conjunction (such as and or or) and that have the same predicate.

The parts of a compound subject may also be joined by correlative conjunctions, such as both . . . and and not only . . . but also.

Although both parts of a compound subject share the same verb, that verb is not always plural. (See Examples and Observations, below.)

See also:

Examples and Observations:

  • Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the lives of many people who lived in the Gulf Coast region.


  • "A life of leisure and a life of laziness are two things. There will be sleeping enough in the grave."
    (Benjamin Franklin)


  • Gus and Merdine drive a 1979 AMC Pacer.


  • Bacon and eggs are a classic combo--one of our favorite meals.


  • Bacon and eggs is a popular breakfast meal in many countries.


  • Neither the director nor her assistant has replied to our invitation.


  • Heads
    "We can . . . talk about the head and complete forms of compound subjects and predicates:
    My sister Laurie and her friend Katie are traveling through Europe.

    Playing the lottery and burning your money are equivalent activities.
    These two sentences contain compound subjects. In the first sentence, the complete compound subject is my sister Laurie and her friend Katie. The head compound subject is Laurie and Katie. Since the subject is compound, we include the conjunction in the head version. In the second sentence, the complete compound subject is playing the lottery and burning your money. The head compound subject is playing and burning."
    (Michael Strumpf and Auriel Douglas, The Grammar Bible. Henry Holt, 2004)


  • Agreement With Compound Subjects
    "Normally a subject made up of more than one element takes a plural verb ("The President and Congress are at loggerheads"), although occasionally, when the elements add up to the same idea, the verb is singular ("The wear and tear on the car was tremendous"). But focus an eye on these compound subjects followed by singular verbs, all of which are correct:

    • Everything in the cupboard and everything on the table was smashed.
    • Everybody favoring the plan and everybody leaning toward it was interviewed.
    • Nobody in my house and nobody on my street has been robbed.
    • Anyone who has read the book and anybody who has even heard of its ideas agrees with the author.
    Strange, eh? . . . The explanation would seem to be that in each instance the second 'particularizer' is superfluous and has no grammatical effect; it could just as well be omitted, and in some of the instances the and would change to or. . . .

    "An odd quirk that proves nothing aside from the fact that some rules do have exceptions."
    (Theodore Bernstein, Miss Thistlebottom's Hobgoblins, 1971)
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