Usage and Grammar

Q. OK, this may be silly, but is there a hard and fast rule about verb agreement when the subject and verb are split by an additional subject that is offset by parentheses or em dashes? My thought is that this “extra” subject should be ignored, but I’m guessing, and I can’t find a clear answer. Example: The evolution (and inspiration) is just beginning. Or should it be, The evolution (and inspiration) are just beginning? I feel like the absolutely correct version is the former, not the latter. As always, thanks for your expert recommendation!

A. You are right to ignore the parenthesis, but if the verb sounds wrong no matter what you do, you’ve got a bad sentence on your hands. Better to rethink.