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  1. #1
    Unregistered Guest

    Usage of the majority.

    Which of the two options is correct?

    1) When the majority of New Yorkers are compelled to choose between two residential options ...

    2) When the majority of New Yorkers is compelled to choose between two residential coptions ...

    My understanding is that since the majority refers to individuals (New Yorkers), a count noun, it should have 'are' and not 'is'.

  2. #2
    Natalie27 Guest

    Re: Usage of the majority.

    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered
    Which of the two options is correct?

    1) When the majority of New Yorkers are compelled to choose between two residential options ...

    2) When the majority of New Yorkers is compelled to choose between two residential coptions ...

    My understanding is that since the majority refers to individuals (New Yorkers), a count noun, it should have 'are' and not 'is'.
    OK. Majority is one of those words where the usage comes down to a factual error. Majority by definition is half + one.

    1. If majority stands for a particular number it gets a singualr verb.
    Ex.
    The majority was only seven votes.

    2. If majority signifies most individuals in a category, then the verb should be plural:

    ex.
    The majority of kids from foster homes are finished school by the age of seventeen.

    However, I think that in ceratin cases, it all depends on what the speaker has in mind - what he really wants to emphasize...if majority is to be represented as a group that is unified than the word majority gets a singualr verb.

    ex.
    The majority of Bush's republican voters stands strongly behind their leader.

    Back to your original sentence. I suppose both singualr and plural are possible depending on which word gets the spot light...the word majority as a group or "New Yorkers".

    More opinions and ideas on this subject are welcome!!

  3. #3
    Steven D's Avatar
    Steven D is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Usage of the majority.

    Quote Originally Posted by Natalie27
    More opinions and ideas on this subject are welcome!!
    I find myself to be in agreement with the AHD usage note.

    http://dictionary.reference.com/search?r=8&q=majority

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: Usage of the majority.

    I use both, but in British English nowadays, we do tend to head for the plural with collective nouns.

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