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  1. #1
    eren deren is offline Newbie
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    Default is the question word -who- always singular?

    Please help me with my problem about the question word WHO.
    Is it true that the verb after WHO must always be singular?

    instruction:ask questions for the underlined word.
    John and Brian go to the library once a week.

    Who go to the library once a week? or Who goes to the library once a week?

    which one is right?

  2. #2
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: is the question word -who- always singular?

    Quote Originally Posted by eren deren View Post
    Is it true that the verb after WHO must always be singular?
    No: Who are those people over there?

    John and Brian go to the library once a week.
    Who go to the library once a week? or Who goes to the library once a week?
    When 'who' is the grammatical subject of the verb that follows, the verb is singular

  3. #3
    eren deren is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: is the question word -who- always singular?

    Thank you very much for your help.

  4. #4
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    nyota is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: is the question word -who- always singular?

    While going through my notes I found this:

    1) Who haven't received their passes?
    2) Who hasn't reveived their passes?

    I made a quick note about no. 1 saying possible with restricted reference, but I'm not sure what I meant by that . Is there a slight difference in meaning? Like we know that somebody didn't get their pass? HM.

  5. #5
    eren deren is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: is the question word -who- always singular?

    Quote Originally Posted by nyota View Post
    While going through my notes I found this:

    1) Who haven't received their passes?
    2) Who hasn't reveived their passes?

    I made a quick note about no. 1 saying possible with restricted reference, but I'm not sure what I meant by that . Is there a slight difference in meaning? Like we know that somebody didn't get their pass? HM.
    As far as I have understood, I would say
    2) Who hasn't received his/her pass?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: is the question word -who- always singular?

    Until comparatively recently, the only acceptable question forms were:

    1. Who hasn't received his pass?
    2. Who hasn't received her pass?
    3. Who hasn't received his or her (his/her) pass?

    #1 was used when addressing an all-male or a mixed group. The old idea that the masculine form covered both sexes was not seriously challenged until the second half of the 20th century.
    #2 was used only for an all-female group.
    #3 became more common when people began questioning sexism in language.

    #4, below, once considered sub-standard, is now becoming increasingly accepted; this is because many find 'his/her' cumbersome:

    4. Who hasn't received their pass?

    Perhaps by analogy with 'They shook their heads', #5 is sometimes heard, even when each person will receive only one pass:

    5. Who hasn't received their passes?

  7. #7
    Barb_D's Avatar
    Barb_D is online now Moderator
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    Default Re: is the question word -who- always singular?

    It can be plural in some situations, though: Who are those two guys standing over there?

    Three women knocked on my door at 3 am!
    No! Who were they?
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: is the question word -who- always singular?

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    It can be plural in some situations, though: Who are those two guys standing over there?

    Three women knocked on my door at 3 am!
    No! Who were they?
    Your example sentences, Barb_D, are a bit off the the track in my opinion.
    Here are some which might be of interest to the asker:

    Who is calling Joan? (not Who are calling Joan?)
    Who is in the picture? (not Who are in the picture?)
    Who helps you do your homework, Pat? (not Who help you do your homework,Pat?)
    Who drives better, Mike or Jason? (not Who drive better, Mike or Jason?)

  9. #9
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: is the question word -who- always singular?

    Quote Originally Posted by engee30 View Post
    Your example sentences, Barb_D, are a bit off the the track in my opinion.
    Hardly, when the original question was: Is it true that the verb after WHO must always be singular?

    I had already partly answered this with a NO in my first post, but more examples do not come amiss.

  10. #10
    engee30's Avatar
    engee30 is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: is the question word -who- always singular?

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    Hardly, when the original question was: Is it true that the verb after WHO must always be singular?
    When you read on, fivejedjon, you might arrive at the same presumption as I did.

    instruction:ask questions for the underlined word.
    John and Brian go to the library once a week.

    Who go to the library once a week? or Who goes to the library once a week?

    which one is right?

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