Usage and Grammar

Q. In the sentence “I thought more people would be interested in knowing what happened to XXX, but I see that his fate, his life, doesn’t seem to bring folks together the way the water did,” would you use “don’t” instead of “doesn’t”? Or does that comma after “his life” keep the verb singular? The author will not tolerate the insertion of “and” between “his life” and “his fate.”

A. “Doesn’t” is correct, and “and” would change the meaning of the sentence. “Life” here is a gloss on “fate,” a parenthetical explanation or extension of it, not an additional item. Your author is right—but you have left us hanging about the curiously unifying properties of this water.