Date and Time: Plural or Singular?

Is the phrase “date and time” plural or singular?

If you Google this question, you’ll get a number of conflicting answers, so I will simply offer my best thoughts on the subject.

On the surface, when someone asks you to verify a date and time, or suggests one, it seems logical to some of us to say that “the date and time are” because they seem to be two separate items. Wouldn’t we say “the man and woman are…” or “the table and couches are…”?

But the phrase “date and time” is becoming a singular item in our thoughts and communications, and it’s fine now to say “the date and time is…”.

Think of it this way: The date is the broader term, and the time is a subset of the date; the time is set within the date. So we are expressing a single moment— a time that happens to be set within a certain date, and this is therefore a single entity.

English is such a fluid language, and we must realize we’re in the middle of a transition from a plural to a singular. (Some folks are used to considering them as two separate entities, so they will continue to use the plural. Be kind to them.)

But for the rest of us—the date and time is….!

My thanks to Clint Morgan and his daughter Michelle for this wonderful suggestion!

Nother

Nother is not really a word, but is used informally and only should be used in speech, if at all. We understand what a person means when they say something like, “It was a whole nother thing.” That may work in conversation, but not in writing or any kind of formal communication. In that case, “It was a whole other thing” is what is needed.

Most of us have figured out that the word nother comes from another (with the drop of the first letter), and that another comes from adding an to other. But sometimes when another word wants to make its way into the expression, we rightly say a, but then add the dropped n to other. It seems the n sound just wants to connect with other so much that it insists on connecting itself where it doesn’t belong.

Everyone knows what a person means when they say nother, but we shouldn’t write it down. And really, it makes us sound smarter if we never say it either.

The R’s That Aren’t

Today’s entry has to do with pronunciation and a couple of nasty “r’s” that have indecorously intruded into some otherwise wonderful words.

The victimized words are “persevere” and “sherbet.” The first has two r’s—not three. The second has one r, not two.

So what the first word isn’t is per-ser-veer. It’s actually per-suh-veer. (with no r in the middle of the word). In other words, there’s no serve in persevere.

That wonderful summertime confection is not “sure, Bert.” It’s pronounced shur-bit. (I know, the –bet part of the word should technically be pronounced bet, not bit. But it’s enough of a victory to get rid of Bert!)

I don’t know how those sneaky little “r’s” have snuck into those words. But let’s make an effort to keep them out!