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  1. #1
    firewell is offline Newbie
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    Default "was a couple" or "were a couple"?

    As in "there was a couple of passages I found difficult to understand" or "there were a couple of passages... etc"?

    If both are valid, any nuance as to the meaning of each?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    2006 is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: "was a couple" or "were a couple"?

    Quote Originally Posted by firewell View Post
    As in "there was a couple of passages I found difficult to understand" or "there were a couple of passages... etc"?
    There "couple" is plural, so use 'were'.
    If both are valid, any nuance as to the meaning of each?

    Thanks!
    2006

  3. #3
    firewell is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: "was a couple" or "were a couple"?

    Thanks for the response, but I'm not sure I understand. "Couple" is singular, "couples" would be plural, right? That's why I wondered if you should go with "there were couples", but "there was a couple"? I tried to google this (even though it's dangerous with English), and I'm getting more hits for "was a couple of" than "were a couple of".

    So you're saying that even though "couple" is singular, you still need to use plural verbs with it?

  4. #4
    Kondorosi is offline Banned
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    Default Re: "was a couple" or "were a couple"?

    Quote Originally Posted by firewell View Post
    As in "there was a couple of passages I found difficult to understand" or "there were a couple of passages... etc"?

    If both are valid, any nuance as to the meaning of each?

    Thanks!
    Both are correct. Notional versus NP head concord.

  5. #5
    Elemoi is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: "was a couple" or "were a couple"?


  6. #6
    2006 is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: "was a couple" or "were a couple"?

    Quote Originally Posted by firewell View Post
    Thanks for the response, but I'm not sure I understand. "Couple" is singular, "couples" would be plural, right?
    No, "couple" has two separate meanings. One meaning is singular and the other meaning is plural.
    "couple" (singular)...a pair of something; for example, two people who are married or otherwise romantically linked. This meaning of "couple" has the plural form "couples".
    My wife and I invited three other couples to our house for dinner.

    "couple" (plural)...two, a few
    There were a couple of passages I found difficult to understand.


    2006

  7. #7
    Kondorosi is offline Banned
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    Default Re: "was a couple" or "were a couple"?

    Quote Originally Posted by 2006 View Post
    2006
    I know it works differently on the other side of the pond, but in BrE, when the subject consists of a unit noun (the head of a noun phrase which realizes the subject) followed by an 'of' prepositional complement, the verb in grammatical concord agrees in number with the head. 'Couples' is the plural form of 'couple'. 'couple is singular and so has to be the verb. You are talking about the notional value of couple. It has a plural sense, and it is taken into account in notional concord, another rule that may govern subject-verb agreement.

  8. #8
    2006 is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: "was a couple" or "were a couple"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kondorosi View Post
    I know it works differently on the other side of the pond, but in BrE, when the subject consists of a unit noun (the head of a noun phrase which realizes the subject) followed by an 'of' prepositional complement, the verb in grammatical concord agrees in number with the head. In the sentence in question, "of" is optional, and with or without "of" the meaning is the same.
    'There were a (couple)(few) passages I found difficult to understand.'
    'I have a (couple)(few) things I have to to do before I can go.'
    'Couples' is the plural form of 'couple'. only when "couple" means 'a pair', as in a man and a woman.


    'couple is singular and so has to be the verb. No, in the sentence in question "couple" means 'two' or a 'few', which is clearly plural. (more than one)

    At least that's the view over here.
    2006

  9. #9
    nuharani is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: "was a couple" or "were a couple"?

    then which one is a couple refers to is it a unit (only one) use is or it is two as we look two persons in it. it is like parents, mom and dad.

  10. #10
    Kondorosi is offline Banned
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    Default Re: "was a couple" or "were a couple"?

    The number of a noun is manifested by its morphological form. Singularity is not a semantic attribute.

    In "There (be) a couple of passages I found difficult to understand," 'of passages' needs to be there to complete the meaning of the unit noun. A couple of what? Peter and Viola are a lovely couple. This couple is not that couple.

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