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  1. #1
    Unregistered1 Guest

    School fees is/are high????

    Do I say "school fees is high" or "school fees are high"? "are" sounds like a better ans though because 'school fees' is an amount undefined, I suppose it could also the the former?

    What about the following:

    Their school fees is/are high?
    His school fees is/are high?

    I do understand that fee is a countable noun, but couldn't I also lump school fees together (misc fees etc etc) and count it as singular (as one item), as in "Their school fees is high"?
    For example, "Ten years ia a long period of time" is one example where I lump ten years together and count it as 'a period of time'. What about " 3 months is a long time to make a decision" ....and the list goes on.
    I am thinking that if I say" Their school fees is high", this sentence may not be wrong for I am referring to high school fees, and we are not wrong to say "The high fees in schools is forcing students to drop out of schools"????????????

  2. #2
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    Re: School fees is/are high????

    School fees are high and that is because fees is plural. As for the lumping together thing... there's no possible lumping here. School is an "adjective" here. Regarding thet phrase "Ten years is a long period of time". I am not entirely sure whether it is grammatical or not (Cassy?). Especially since I would write "Ten years constitue a long period of time" and not constitutes... mainly because the subject is "Ten years" which is, of course, plural.

    In any case, you would lump "Ten years" together and consider it "a long period of time". In the sentence "Their school fees is high" you lump "school fees" together and consider it... what?
    Last edited by HCaulfield; 19-May-2005 at 21:05. Reason: Deepening

  3. #3
    T.L Guest

    Re: School fees is/are high????

    What I mean is - I remember reading in a grammar book about singular/plural collective nouns, and for example the following sentence" The Headquarters is/are located three miles away from here" , both is/are can be used as the word 'headquarters' can refer to headquarters as a single entity (a building) or several entities (a number of buildings together). Hence I wonder if the same rule can be applied to the word 'school fees'(I do understand that school is a collective noun whereas fees is not), since when we talk about school fees, we can also be referring to miscellanous fees etc etc. Opinions?
    Last edited by T.L; 20-May-2005 at 15:01.

  4. #4
    T.L Guest

    Re: School fees is/are high????

    I refer to the following - Any opinions? (I am indeed trying to best find out the answer myself, but I cannot be sure...)

    Collective nouns

    A collective noun is a noun that denotes a collection of persons or things regarded as a unit.

    Usage Note: In American usage, a collective noun takes a singular verb when it refers to the collection considered as a whole, as in:

    The family was united on this question.
    The enemy is suing for peace.
    It takes a plural verb when it refers to the members of the group considered as individuals, as in:

    My family are always fighting among themselves.
    The enemy were showing up in groups of three or four to turn in their weapons.
    In British usage, however, collective nouns are more often treated as plurals:
    The government have not announced a new policy.
    The team are playing in the test matches next week.
    A collective noun should not be treated as both singular and plural in the same construction; thus:

    The family is determined to press its (not their) claim.
    Among the common collective nouns are:

    committee
    clergy
    company
    enemy
    group
    family
    flock
    public
    team
    Yourdictionary.com.

    Swan (Practical English Usage, New Edition, Oxford University Press, 1997) elaborates on this singular/plural usage, and disagrees about treating collective nouns as both singular and plural in the same construction:

    "In British English, singular words like family, team, government, which refer to groups of people, can be used with either singular or plural verbs and pronouns.

    This team is/are going to lose.
    Plural forms are common when the group is considered as a collection of people doing personal things like deciding, hoping or wanting; and in these cases we use who, not which, as a relative pronoun. Singular forms (with which as a relative pronoun) are more common when the group is seen as an impersonal unit. Compare:

    My family have decided to move to Nottingham. They think it's a better place to live.
    The average British family has 3.6 members. It is smaller and richer than 50 years ago.
    The government, who are hoping to ease export restrictions soon,
    The government, which is elected by a simple majority,
    My firm are wonderful. They do all they can for me.
    My firm was founded in the 18th century.
    When a group noun is used with a singular determiner (e.g. a/an, each, every, this, that), singular verbs and pronouns are normal. Compare:

    The team are full of enthusiasm.
    A team which is full of enthusiasm has a better chance of winning.
    Sometimes singular and plural forms are mixed:

    The group gave its first concert in June and they are already booked up for the next six months.
    Examples of group nouns which can be used with both singular and plural verbs in British English:

    bank
    the BBC
    choir
    class
    club
    committee
    England (e.g. the football team)
    family
    firm
    government
    jury
    ministry
    orchestra
    party
    public
    school
    staff
    team
    union
    In American English singular verbs are normally used with most of these nouns in all cases (though family can have a plural verb). Plural pronouns can be used:

    The team is in Detroit this weekend. They have a good chance of winning."

  5. #5
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    Re: School fees is/are high????

    The plural noun "fees" is not treated as a collective:

    "School fees are high."
    "Fees are high."

    Compare,
    The family is (as a group)
    The family are (as individuals)

    The fees is (as a group) ungrammatical
    The fees are (as more than one)

    Note, 'The family are' and 'The fees are' do not carry the same meaning. 'family' is a collective noun, whereas 'fees' is not. They are different, so when the verb changes (is/are), the meaning changes for 'family' but not for 'fees'.

    All the best,

  6. #6
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    Re: School fees is/are high????

    Quote Originally Posted by HCaulfield
    Regarding the phrase "Ten years is a long period of time". I am not entirely sure whether it is grammatical or not (Cassy?). Especially since I would write "Ten years constitue a long period of time" and not constitutes... mainly because the subject is "Ten years" which is, of course, plural.
    Cassy, help?

  7. #7
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    Re: School fees is/are high????

    The verb is the key:

    [1] Ten years is a long period of time.
    [2] Ten years constitute a long period of time.

    In [1], the verb "is" functions as a linking verb, which means both the subject "Ten years" and the subject complement "a long period of time" must agree in number. "Ten years" is described as "period", a singular noun, so the verb is singular. Consider,

    A long period of time is ten years.

    In [2] the subject is plural, so the verb is plural:

    Ten years constitute.

    You might also come across,

    [3] Ten years consititutes. . .

    wherein "Ten years" is short for "A period of ten years constitutes. . . ." The subject is "period" (Singular), thus the verb is singular "constitutes".

  8. #8
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    Re: School fees is/are high????

    I don't understand
    Are you saying that when there is a linking verb, singular is prefered?
    So, number two is correct and not number one.
    1. In Denmark, 9 years of primary school are compulsory.
    2. In Denmark, 9 years of primary school is compulsory.

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea View Post
    The verb is the key:

    [1] Ten years is a long period of time.
    [2] Ten years constitute a long period of time.

    In [1], the verb "is" functions as a linking verb, which means both the subject "Ten years" and the subject complement "a long period of time" must agree in number. "Ten years" is described as "period", a singular noun, so the verb is singular. Consider,

    A long period of time is ten years.

    In [2] the subject is plural, so the verb is plural:

    Ten years constitute.

    You might also come across,

    [3] Ten years consititutes. . .

    wherein "Ten years" is short for "A period of ten years constitutes. . . ." The subject is "period" (Singular), thus the verb is singular "constitutes".

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