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    #1

    [Singular or plural]The doctor together with five nurses are coming.

    Hello, everyone.

    I have a strong feeling that the following sentence is correct. My argument is that there are actually six people, including a doctor and five nurses, who are coming. However, it seems my judgement contradicts with what I read from a book this afternoon.

    The doctor together with five nurses are coming.

    I would be glad to hear your thoughts.

    Many thanks

    Richard

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    #2

    Re: [Singular or plural]The doctor together with five nurses are coming.

    Yes. 1 doctor plus 5 nurses equals 6 people.

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    #3

    Re: [Singular or plural]The doctor together with five nurses are coming.

    Subject noun phrases may be linked by quasi-coordinators (such as along with, rather than, and as well as) that are semantically similar to coordinators. Grammatical concord requires a
    singular verb if the first noun phrase is singular

    The doctor, as well as five nurses, is coming.
    The doctor together with five nurses is coming.
    The doctor along with five nurses is coming.
    CGEL by Quirk et al.

    Quasi-coordinators (as well as, along with, together with, etc.) are semantically equivalent to coordinators, and thus notional concord can interfere with grammatical concord.

    A piece of cake, along with cakewalk, were...
    MWDEU

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    #4

    Re: [Singular or plural]The doctor together with five nurses are coming.

    Thanks for your posts, SoothingDave and Diagon.

    I've read similar things with regard to quasi-coordinators. I can understand the bit about such coordinators when commas are used to separate them and the words following them from the sentence. One example being The doctor, as well as five nurses, is coming., as given by you, in that such a structure clearly puts an emphasise on the fact, as in the sentence given, it's the doctor who is coming.

    On the other hand, in my sentence it seems quite clear that more than one person is coming. I am wondering whether there might be other reasons for not using are here.

    Richard

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    #5

    Re: [Singular or plural]The doctor together with five nurses are coming.

    This can be a source of controversy. Consider the following sentences:

    Two plus three is five.

    Two and three are five.

    In the first sentence, the subject is "two" and it is modified by the prepositional phrase "plus three." The basic sentence is "Two is five." This does not make mathematical sense, but it is grammatical. "Two" is singular and takes "is" as the singular verb.

    In the second sentence, the subject is compound "two and three," so the subject is plural and the plural verb is used.

    Now to your original sentence: "The doctor together with five nurses are coming."

    I would use "is." "The doctor is coming" is the basic sentence. "Together" is an adverb describing how the doctor is coming and "with five nurses" is a prepositional phrase modifying the adverb.

    The subject of the sentence is "the doctor" which is singular.

  1. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: [Singular or plural]The doctor together with five nurses are coming.

    I think this rule is in the same category as "none is always singular." In the books, but rarely followed in constructions such "None of them are coming."

    While the grammar books say that X, along with Y, or A, as well as B, should take the singular (if X and A are both singular), I think you'll find most native speakers, thinking of them as multiple things, will use the plural.

    On an exam, follow the rule that says that the "along with" and "as well as" are singular if the head noun is singular, but in common speech and writing, don't worry about it.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  2. 5jj's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: [Singular or plural]The doctor together with five nurses are coming.

    I avoid the problem by saying:

    The doctor and five nurses are coming.

    or:

    The doctor is coming (together) with five nurses.

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