The following excerpt is from David Precht's Erkenne die Welt (p. 53); he is quoting the pre-Socratic philosopher Anaximenes:

"Wie unsere Seele, die Luft ist, uns regiert", meint Anaximenes, "so umfasst auch den ganzen Kosmos Hauch und Luft."

I cannot figure out the subject of umfasst. Its conjugation suggests that this subject is singular, but Hauch und Luft would be plural. The other possibility, Kosmos, is ruled out by being in the accusative case.


Hauch und Luft können aufgefasst werden als eine Sache, die unterschiedlich, vielleicht weil vage, dargestellt wird.

Hier regiert Not und Elend

wäre ein analoger Fall.

  • I would add that this kind of thing is not normally allowed, but apparently there's an exception when the pair is taken to be a single entity in two parts. I'm struggling to think of a similar example in English; "Our top priority at the moment is food and water" perhaps. But note that USA is singular in English, but plural in German (which makes more sense). – RDBury Jan 11 at 3:43

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