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    #1

    Considered singular or plural?

    What IS your strength and weakness?
    vs.
    What ARE your strength and weakness?

    Which one is the correct one gramatically? And why?

    Isn't the first one the correct one? The question is asking 2 seperate questions about 2 seperate things? Strength and weakness are treated as seperate singular matters?

    I am aware that the question is usually in the form of "What ARE your strengths and weaknesses?", but I would like to know which one of the two sentence is correct gramatically since there can be other cases such as that and why.

    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited by vcolts; 27-Sep-2009 at 16:25.

  1. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Considered singular or plural?

    Usually we refer to "strengths" and "weaknesses" in the plural, so it would be "are" not matter what.

    You could, I guess, say "What is your greatest strength and greatest weakness" with the second "what is your" implied after the "and" or because it sounds like your greatest strength and weakness are a pair of things considered together.

    You could also say "What are your greatest strength and your greatest weakness?" thinking of them as two different things.

    My recommendation, though, for your first question is to make them both plural.

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    #3

    Re: Considered singular or plural?

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    Usually we refer to "strengths" and "weaknesses" in the plural, so it would be "are" not matter what.

    You could, I guess, say "What is your greatest strength and greatest weakness" with the second "what is your" implied after the "and" or because it sounds like your greatest strength and weakness are a pair of things considered together.

    You could also say "What are your greatest strength and your greatest weakness?" thinking of them as two different things.

    My recommendation, though, for your first question is to make them both plural.
    I am aware that "weaknesses" and "strengths" are used normally.

    My question is which one of the two sentences I provided is gramatically correct and why so when I run into a gramatically similar sentence, I would know better.

    If I understand you correctly, you are saying the first one is the gramatically correct one because in that case, strength and weakness are considered as a pair of things together (so it's considered as one thing together).

    And, in order to make them seperate singular matters, I must put "your" twice?
    Last edited by vcolts; 27-Sep-2009 at 18:25.

  2. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Considered singular or plural?

    I am suggesting that repeating "your" makes it read better FOR ME.

    Other people may NOT consider them a singular unit, and may find the "are" fits better. Your meaning will drive the singular/plural question.

    Some of these things are as much about style as about grammar.

    I try to say what sounds more natural and what a native speaker would expect to read. If you use something that we usually see in the plural in the singular, you will automatically make it more noticeable. Most business writers don't want the way their words are presented to attract more notice than the message they convey.

  3. konungursvia's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Considered singular or plural?

    Quote Originally Posted by vcolts View Post
    I am aware that "weaknesses" and "strengths" are used normally.

    My question is which one of the two sentences I provided is gramatically correct and why so when I run into a gramatically similar sentence, I would know better.

    If I understand you correctly, you are saying the first one is the gramatically correct one because in that case, strength and weakness are considered as a pair of things together (so it's considered as one thing together).

    And, in order to make them seperate singular matters, I must put "your" twice?
    The second is logically correct. Both are outside what we would deem correct English.

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    #6

    Re: Considered singular or plural?

    If there is the following sentence:

    What are your preference and dislike in this situation?

    The above sentence is gramatically correct?

  4. konungursvia's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Considered singular or plural?

    Yes, but it's unnatural in two senses: habitually we hear the plurals of both positives and negatives here; and culturally we prefer giving people more leeway to answer by keeping them plural on either side.

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