How to play chess and win the game is/are...

taked4700

Senior Member
japanese japan
Hi,

Which is right?

1. Playing chess and winning the game is a difficult thing.

2. Playing chess and winning the game are difficult things

I'd like to say "It is not easy to play chess and win the game."

I guess 1 would be the right one.

Or there would be another expression to say the same thing.

Thanks in advance,
 
  • Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    I agree. Playing and winning are combined actions here, so it is considered a singular subject. In (2) there appears to be the sense that playing in itself is difficult, whether one wins or not, and that winning is difficult, too. Playing chess may well be difficult (it certainly is for me!), but it does not seem to be the intention of your statement to say this.
     

    taked4700

    Senior Member
    japanese japan
    Thank you, Matching Mole.

    How about this one?

    A: It was difficult for me to get up early every morning and run 5km.

    B: Sure. Getting up early every morning and running for five km is/are hard for me, too.

    Thanks in advance.
     

    MilkyBarKid

    Senior Member
    British English
    Understand that English is an ego-centric language: the speaker uses words to express his view of the situation.

    Does the speaker mean:
    "Getting up early every morning is hard for me."
    and
    "Running for five km is hard for me."
    as two separate events?

    I doubt it. He means:
    "Getting up early every morning so I can run for five km (before I have to go to work) is hard for me."

    What's "hard for me"- the action/event in the speaker's mind - is the totality, the combination of the two as one single event.
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    I think this one is trickier, because getting up and running are rather different actions. Nevertheless, the sense appears to be that one is getting up in order to run, so I think the singular would be chosen here. It's very close to "getting up to run every morning" which is a single verbal phrase.
     

    MilkyBarKid

    Senior Member
    British English
    "Apples and oranges are good for you."

    I - the speaker - see these as two separate things.

    "Working from 9 to 5, and doing all the cooking and cleaning, and caring for the kids, is too much for one person. Instead of beer and football, you might give a thought for me!"

    Here, the speaker sees all of this as the load/burden on her in the home/marriage.
     

    taked4700

    Senior Member
    japanese japan
    Thank you, Matching Mole and MilkyBarKid.

    I think I got the point.

    So, let me make sure with another example.

    A: Tom likes playing baseball, but Ken likes reading books at home.

    B: Both playing baseball and reading books at home are good things for them.

    Is this right?


    Thanks in advance.
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    That's fine, of course, as there are two actors in the sentence; but even if there were only one, the subject would still take plural concord, because these are separate activities:

    "Playing baseball and reading books are things that Tom likes."

    Note that in the examples where we judged the actions to be "as one", either the two actions are essentially inseparable, or one action is done in order to do another. There is no such connection between reading and playing baseball in your latest example.
     
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