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Subjects Joined by Other Connectors

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Watch Out

Watch out for along with, as well as, together with, not to mention, and others. These are not conjunctions and do not form plural subjects.

Writers often use other connecting words to join nouns to the subject of the sentence. If that subject—the first noun—is singular, the verb must be singular. These connectors usually are prepositional phrases. They do not perform the function of a coordinating conjunction and therefore do not produce a plural subject.

Here’s New Fowler:

Nouns joined by other linking words or quasi-coordinators (e.g. accompanied by, as well as, not to mention, together with, etc.) are followed by a singular verb if the first noun or noun phrase is singular. New Fowler, p. 35.

New Fowler gives this example:

A very profitable company such as British Telecom, along with many other companies in the UK, is not prepared to pay a reasonable amount. New Fowler, p. 35.

Of course, it’s difficult to absorb correct usage when all around us we find so much in error. In 1999, The Washington Times wrote:

[P]otential Senate candidate Hillary Clinton, along with her husband Bill and daughter Chelsea, are winding up their 16-day family vacation this week in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New   York. The Washington Times, Sept. 1, 1999, p. A6, col. 4.

No, it should have read:

[P]otential Senate candidate Hillary Clinton, along with her husband Bill and daughter Chelsea, is winding up the family’s 16-day family vacation this week in the Finger Lakes region of upstateNew York.

If the author wanted to stress the plural nature of the grammatical subject, he should have made it truly plural by writing:

[P]otential Senate candidate Hillary Clinton, husband Bill, and daughter Chelsea are winding up their 16-day family vacation this week in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.

 

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