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  1. #1
    iamwkk is offline Junior Member
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    Default Singular or plural verbs?

    Is there a rule?

    A number of people was / were injured?
    A chain of keys was / were found in the kitchen.
    A variety of drinks is / are available?
    The majority of people disagree(s) with the plan.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Singular or plural verbs?

    Quote Originally Posted by iamwkk
    Is there a rule?

    A number of people was / were injured?
    A chain of keys was / were found in the kitchen.
    A variety of drinks is / are available?
    The majority of people disagree(s) with the plan.
    were injured
    was found
    are available
    disagree

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Singular or plural verbs?

    Marylin:
    I also asked a question about plural verbs and here is what mykwyner answered me:

    To my question: A variety of drinks is or are available?
    The answer was:
    Sentence 1. The subject is variety and it requires the singular verb is.

    To my question: A wide range of sports is or are offered in the premises?
    The answer was the same
    Sentence 2. The subject is range and it also requires the singular verb is.

    The English language allows for a large numbers of interrupters (prepositional phrases, relative clauses, appositives, etc.) to be placed between the simple subject and its verb, but they still have to agree in number and person. Try reducing the sentence to its basic meaning: variety is available and range is offered.

    Since you offered iamwkk a different answer, you said:
    "A variety of drinks are available"

    I would like to know what you think about mykwyner's answer since now I am more confused than before, and why you think your answer is the right one.

    Thank you.
    Silvia.

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Singular or plural verbs?

    Singular and plural can be tricky in English. In British English especially, you will hear both 'a variety...is' and the plural. Again, with the last question some people look at 'majority' as a singular entity, and other look on it as a collection of people. In American English, there seems to be a preference for the singular in such cases, but in British English, you'll hear both, though we tend to head for the plural. In the UK, you'll hear ' a variety of drinks are available' and, I presume for Marylin's answer, that thisis the same in Canada. I'm afraid there's no absolute answer to this for me as a British English speaker.

    I recently saw a discussion over this:
    There ____ a man and a woman to see you.

    Given that there are two people, many argued that it should be 'are'. However, at least in the UK, the vast majority would say 'is' because of the prximity to the indefinite article. Proximity often is the basis for people's choice and the proximity of 'drinks' to the verb in your example means that many would use the plural verb. I'm afraid that there are two ways of looking at this.

    However, I would always follow Mykwyner's advice in an exam, because if it is being tested, it's almost certainly an American test, and you're never wrong if you correctly identify the actual subject and take the simgular or plural from that.
    Last edited by Tdol; 13-Jul-2005 at 04:14.

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    Default Re: Singular or plural verbs?

    Thank you so much, tdol.

    Your answer has been really clarifying. I think in a text I will find the verbs written in singular or plural and both will be correct, depending on whether I'm reading American English or British English, right?

    Regards,
    Silvia.

  6. #6
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Singular or plural verbs?

    In British English, both are correct. In American English, they might well say 'the team are' is wrong, so, yes, you're right.
    Last edited by Tdol; 13-Jul-2005 at 09:20.

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    Default Re: Singular or plural verbs?

    The number of people is-"is" refers to "number"
    A number of people are-"are" refers to "people"

    Team, family, class, committee-collective nouns. Is-if you see this group as one, and you want to emphasize the unity between its members. Are-if you see the group as a collection of individuals and you want to emphasize each one of the them.

  8. #8
    mykwyner is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Singular or plural verbs?

    Thanks, tdol, I had forgotten that British speakers treat most of their collective nouns as plurals. I was just repeating what was beaten into my head. Of course the best advice I can give any student is to follow his teacher's usage.

  9. #9
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Singular or plural verbs?

    Before the internet, my knowledge of the differences between American and British English was minimal. Textbooks had lists of obvious words and a few points like 'gotten'. Only after coming into daily contact with American teachers and learners did I realise just how many little differences there are.

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