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Author Topic: Effect of “while” and “and” in linking two progressive actions  (Read 135 times)
Joe Carillo
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« on: March 19, 2017, 11:43:35 PM »

Question by Marie Anne Santos Fernandez through the Forum’s Facebook Gateway (March 19, 2017):

Hello Sir!

Is the sentence “Listening to music while eating my fave finger food GIVES me such a relief and relaxation,” correct?

I’m a bit confused with the use of singular and plural verb in that statement.

My reply to Mary Anne:

The sentence “Listening to music while eating my fave finger food gives me such a relief and relaxation” is grammatically correct. The use of the adverb “while” to indicate simultaneity of the two progressive actions “listening to music” and “eating my fave finger food” makes them one contiguous action, thus requiring the singular form “gives” instead of the plural form “gives.” It would have been different if those two actions were linked by the additive conjunction “and”; in that case, the sense would be plural and the verb’s plural form “give” would be called for: “Listening to music and eating my fave finger food give me such a relief and relaxation.”

Incidentally, the verb phrases “listening to music” and “eating my fave finger food” may also be viewed as gerund phrases that become one contiguous gerund phrase when linked by “with,” thus needing the verb’s singular form ”gives,” and become two distinct additive phrases when linked by “and,” thus needing the verb’s plural form ”give.” The result is the same as discussed in the paragraph above, with the verb taking the singular form "gives" when the linking conjunction is "while" and taking the plural form "give" when the linking conjunction is "and."
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