What Is a Compound Subject? (with Examples)

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What Is a Compound Subject? (with Examples)

A compound subject is one which consists of more than one noun. (This includes pronouns, noun phrases, and noun clauses.)

When the subject of a sentence is made up of two or more elements, it's called a compound subject.

The individual elements in a compound subject are joined by words like and and or (called coordinate conjunctions) or pairings like either/or and neither/nor (called correlative conjunctions).

Examples of Compound Subjects

Here are some examples of compound subjects (shaded):
  • A clean driving licence, sales experience and team spirit are essential.
  • A fool and his money are easily parted.
  • The pigeon and the falcon fell from view.
  • My wife and I cannot attend unfortunately.
  • Neither the British Army nor the Metropolitan Police had any suitable vehicles.

Is a Compound Subject Singular or Plural?

When and is used to join the elements in a compound subject, the compound subject is treated as plural. For example:
  • Mark and Craig are flying on Saturday.
However, when using terms like in conjunction with, as well as, and alongside, the compound subject might not necessarily be plural. For example:
  • Mark as well as Craig is flying on Saturday.
Read more about the quirks of subject-verb agreement.

When using or, either/or, or neither/nor, the compound subject might be singular or plural. Generally, if all elements are singular, then the compound subject should be treated as singular.

There is a little more to it than that though.

Read more about using a singular or plural verb with or, either/or, and neither/nor.
It is possible to end a compound subject with a comma to group it neatly for your readers. This is not a popular practice amongst grammarians. However, if you think it helps, do it. For example:
  • Leaving a list of Internet passwords, increasing your life insurance and writing a will, will give you peace of mind while you are on operations.
  • (The author has ended the compound subject with a comma to make it clear where the subject ends. This is acceptable.)
Read more about ending a long, compound subject with a comma.

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