is/are - plural or singular here?

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Kathe19

Senior Member
Polish
Dear Users,

I'd like to get some help with this sentence:

Analytic and argumentative ability, as well as outstanding social intelligence is the best way to describe her contribution...

Is it 'is' or 'are'? I'm confused because Word suggests 'are', but in this sentence I want to take these as one thing: a description.

Thank you :)
 
  • Istarion

    Senior Member
    British English
    ...I want to take these as one thing: a description.
    Hi Kathe,
    In that case, I'd put the description in quotation marks:
    "Analytic and argumentative ability, as well as outstanding social intelligence," is the best way to describe her contribution.

    But even that sounds a bit awkward. It all depends on context: can you give us any more details?
    -I
     

    Kathe19

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I guess I want to say that these are her distinguishing features, her unique contribution to the project I'm describing further. It's a bit like a marketing slogan perhaps.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Word is useless at this. It gets confused by proximity and can't really help on complex agreement questions. For me, the part introduced by 'as well as' (a) should be set off by commas on both sides, and (b) should not influence the agreement. The agreement should be 'is' with singular 'analytic and argumentative ability'. But people's usage is very variable here, so almost anything is justifiable - except doing what Word suggests just because it suggests it. :)
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    It would be less awkward if, after giving the description in quotation marks, you put a colon, and then say: 'that is the best way ...'
     

    Istarion

    Senior Member
    British English
    How about "Her contribution is best described as a strong analytic and argumentative ability coupled with an outstanding social intelligence". Word should be fine with that grammar ;). By using "coupled with" you avoid having a list of items, so you don't need the plural. The indefinite article makes the sentence feel more natural: "...best described as an [...] ability..." sounds a lot better than "...best described as [...] ability..." to me.

    Edit:
    Word is useless at this.
    I agree that it's a bad idea to rely on Word's grammar checker! But that's what we're here for - glad you asked, and didn't just do what Word told you to.

    -I
     

    cyberpedant

    Senior Member
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    To avoid any agreement difficulties I'd change "as well as" to "and," creating a clearly compound subject which takes a verb in the plural:
    Analytic and argumentative ability and outstanding social intelligence are the best way to describe her contribution..
     

    Istarion

    Senior Member
    British English
    To avoid any agreement difficulties I'd change "as well as" to "and," creating a clearly compound subject which takes a verb in the plural:
    Analytic and argumentative ability and outstanding social intelligence are the best way to describe her contribution..
    I suppose that's the obvious alternative to my suggestion, which was to make it into a clearly singular subject. Either works well - I think each has its advantages and disadvantages. The plural can sound a little odd at first glance even when it's completely correct; the singular can sound contrived.
    -I
     
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