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Following are the example statements of Wren and Martin Grammar Book:
1. The car cost me five thousand rupees.
2. Twenty hundredweight make one ton.
Cost and Make are plural verbs. But 'The car' is singular if not twenty hundredweight.
Twenty hundredweight is a measurement that is used to weigh goods in a merchandise. Shouldn't it be singular too?
Please help me resolve the above doubts.
"The car cost me five hundred rupees" is correct, but it is past tense.
The car costs Rs. 500 <-- singular present
The car cost Rs. 500 <-- singular past
The cars cost Rs. 500 <-- plural present or past.
"Twenty hundredweight make one ton" is correct in the plural, because it's twenty.
Obviously in this sense of make=equal, used with units, it's much more common to say "so many smaller units make one larger unit" rather than "one larger unit makes so many smaller units". But my sense of the language wouldn't be offended in the least if I saw "one ton makes twenty hundredweight."
Perhaps what is confusing you is the phrase "twenty hundredweight", in which the word "hundredweight" is plural. The plural of units of measurement is indeed vexing. Here common usage, recommendations of international scientific bodies, and actual scientific and technical practice are all extremely inconsistent. I have seen a recommendation that to mark absolute levels, an apparently singular form should always be used, for example 20 joule, 300 kelvin, but for differences between two levels, the form should be plural: 300 K - 273.16 K = 16.14 kelvins. But I don't think this rule is in any way universally followed. For the common English units, ordinary plurals--feet, inches, miles, acres, etc.,--are usual, but "hundredweight" is one unit, at least, where a singular form in the plural does not seem offensive. Another is "dozen", as a generic twelvefold.
Another thing that may be confusing is that in specialized trades, an apparently plural measurement such as "twenty hundredweight" may indeed be considered a collective unit, so that "twenty hundredweight makes one ton" may also be an acceptable sentence. But such usage is properly trade or hobby jargon, and in most cases is not really part of the ordinary language.
Last edited by abaka; 22-Jan-2009 at 15:19. Reason: typo