Sujin

Could someone answer this quirky 'Grammar' thing for me?
Hi, I recently happened upon quite confusing grammar quiestion.
Here is thing.
The understanding of the process of mathematical creation and of the age-old grappling with mathematical problems ( is / are ) completely lost.
In my perspective, the answer should be 'are' since there are two understanding ; 1. the understanding of the process of mathematical creation ; 2. the understanding of the age-old grappling with mathematical problmes.
But, ironically, there also can be only one answer as there is only one understaning; the understanding of the process( of matematical creationg and of the age-old grappling with mathematical problems. )
What interpretaion should be right, and what's the asnwer?
In the same context,
The girl in blue jeans and with a red hat ( is / are ) korean.
And what's the answer for this question if I want to describe two girls; one with blue jeans; the other with a red hat. Should I write in different way?

Answers · 1

This is the kind of question that would be asked on a high-school grammar test and half of the class would get the answer wrong. I dare say that most of us would say or write it incorrectly as we have a tendency have the verb agree with the closest noun even if that is not grammatically correct. I think that the answer to your question is that the noun in this sentence is "understanding" and the verb should therefore be "is". The compound prepositional phrase "of the process of mathematical creation and of the age-old grappling with mathematical problems" is just a modifier, albeit a very complicated one.
For your second question, it is my opinion that you would have to repeat the subject in order to be clear that you are talking about two girls.
1. The girl in blue jeans and (with the) red hat is Korean.
2. The girl in blue jeans and the girl with the red hat are Korean.