library and garden is/are

Discussion in 'English Only' started by friedric, Dec 7, 2012.

  1. friedric Senior Member

    Polska
    polski
    Rewriting an old saying, I ended with this:

    1. Library and garden is all that man needs to be happy.
    2. A library and a garden are all that man needs to be happy.
    3. Library and garden is what the man needs for happiness.

    The main thing, and my question is, whether the construction "library and garden" could be considered as unit, as one, thence singular?

    Thank you
     
  2. b3n5p34km4n Junior Member

    American English
    Even with other phrases with two words that go together (I'm thinking of room & board), the phrase is treated as two separate subjects. Thus, I would write the old saying as:

    A library and a garden are all a man needs to be happy.

    Other phrases I thought of are God & Country and tooth & nail. Each one seems to me as if it wouldn't be treated as a single unit.
     
  3. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    London
    English - South-East England
    Plural is always correct in this situation, so (2) is safe. As to whether a common pairing could take singular . . . well, yes, I think so, but rarely. It sounds okay to say 'Food and drink is included in the price', but not :cross:'House and garden is an attractive property/prospect', and a library and a garden don't form a single group the way a house and garden do.

    Singular is used with fixed expressions such as health and safety, bacon and eggs, fish and chips, where the combination is meant, rather than the two things separately. Health and safety is an important consideration; fish and chips is a comforting meal.
     
  4. friedric Senior Member

    Polska
    polski
    @entangledbank - how about the when library and garden are inseparable in sense that neither library nor garden alone brings happiness to the man?
    @b3n - if every man on the earth needs only garden and library to happy, would we still need the article before "man"?
     
  5. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    London
    English - South-East England
    A library and a garden are both essential, but they still don't form a group, any more than sex and oxygen do.
     
  6. b3n5p34km4n Junior Member

    American English
    If there is no article preceding "man", then it means the exact same thing as "mankind". It might not make as much sense, because to me that would seem like all of mankind would be sharing a single library and a single garden. While the imagery here is beautiful and poetic, I do not know if that was the original meaning. So as long as "library" and "garden" have articles, my personal preference would be to give one to "man" as well.
     
  7. friedric Senior Member

    Polska
    polski
    b3n - if there is no article preceding "library" and "garden" then we are not talking about single library and garden? Existing english translation of Cicero's thought is easy to find. I dont know latin, but I feel that my version is closer to what roman wiseman had said.

    entangledbank - I could agree with "sex and oxygen is what he needs to survive..." Actually, I think I know few people with such a preferences.
     
  8. lucas-sp Senior Member

    English - Californian
    The rhetorical device of using two grammatically separate nouns to refer to one semantic concept is called hendiadys, by the way.

    I think "library and garden" has the potential to form a semantic unit, but it's very hard (because libraries are inside and gardens are outside, I think - they feel like opposites and repel each other). Obviously in a phrase like "The Vita Sackville-West Library and Garden is a museum devoted to blablabla" it works. Like most rhetorical devices, there's no hard-and-fast rule; instead, more and less effective applications of the device are possible.
     

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