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Worrying about measuring time precisely, and being paid for units of time, is what distinguishes the West from many other civilizations. It is what compelled human beings to ever more technological creativity, as we broke time down into smaller and more accurate units.

About the subject in the sentence in red, is it:

(1) Worrying about [measuring time precisely+ being paid for units of time]
(i.e. the subject is the worrying about something)

or

(2) [Worriyng about measuring time precicely]+[being paid for units of time]
(i.e. the subject is the worrying about something and the being paid for the units)

?
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Comments  
Your choice!

English (or is that all language?) is notorious for its ability to build ambiguous structures, and you are particularly adept at flushing them out the bushes, I must say! Emotion: smile

I interpret the sentence as you do in your first formulation, if my particular choice is of interest to you!

CJ
CalifJimYour choice!

English (or is that all language?) is notorious for its ability to build ambiguous structures, and you are particularly adept at flushing them out the bushes, I must say! Emotion: smile

I interpret the sentence as you do in your first formulation, if my particular choice is of interest to you!

CJ

Good!

And could you tell me why your pick is (1), rahter than (2)?
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I would guess the author meant the first because he or she chose the singular "is" as the verb. So that makes me thinkg it's the worrying about [two things] that's the subject, rather than a compound subject which would take a plural "are."
Grammar GeekI would guess the author meant the first because he or she chose the singular "is" as the verb. So that makes me thinkg it's the worrying about [two things] that's the subject, rather than a compound subject which would take a plural "are."
Is it necessary so, GG?

Isn't it grammatically also possible to take 'X and Y' as a single unity, like, say, 'bread and butter' or 'gin and tonic'?
Sure, "bread and butter" and "gin and tonic" (and "ham and eggs" and other things that "go together") can take a singular subject, but the author of this passage has joined two things that are not a standard pairing.
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Grammar GeekSure, "bread and butter" and "gin and tonic" (and "ham and eggs" and other things that "go together") can take a singular subject, but the author of this passage has joined two things that are not a standard pairing.
Aren't 'worrying about measuring time precisely' and 'being paid for units of time' kind of a typical, if not a standard, pairing in our civilizations?
Perhaps we pair them in our brains, but not often enough in our writing that they would qualify for the singular verb, the way we do "fish and chips" or "love and marriage" or the other examples you gave earlier.
Worrying about measuring time precisely, and being paid for units of time = subject
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