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    #1

    suggest or suggests

    Which one would be correct?

    The patient's reply included a set of incoherent words which suggest(s) he is indeed mentally ill.

    What is "suggest" modifying here?

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    #2

    Re: suggest or suggests

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Hello, Olleyao:

    You have asked a super difficult question.

    (1) First, let's get rid of the "easy" question. "Suggest(s)" does not modify anything. It is the verb for "which."

    (2) But what does "which" refer to? Ah! That's the BIG problem. Does it refer to "set suggests" or "words suggest"?

    (3) We non-teachers have been warned NOT to answer unless we are pretty confident of our answers. Since I am not

    that confident, I can do the following for you, and then you have to make the decision.

    (a) Everyone agrees that "set" is a so-called collective noun. That is, if it refers to the whole group, then use the

    singular verb; if the emphasis is on the individual members of the group, use the plural verb.

    (b) I did some googling and shall now give some examples of the singular use:

    "A set of fourteen appendices completes the practicality of the book."
    "Each set of 25 papers is two cents."
    "A set of words forms a language."
    "Choose the word or set of words that best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole."

    (c) Now here are some examples with the plural feeling:

    "A set of words arranged so as to display their own interdefinability."
    "A set of books which shall clearly and plainly present a complete record."
    "Paradigm indicates an unordered set of words which have an identical lexical meaning."
    "A set of rules that clarify and delineate how ...."

    HAVE A NICE DAY!

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    #3

    Re: suggest or suggests

    What is more important?

    If it is the fact that incoherent words were used then we should use suggests. (the reply as a whole)


    However, if the specific words used suggest insanity then we should used suggest. (the words in the reply)
    Last edited by jamiep; 07-May-2012 at 04:16. Reason: Edited to clarify.

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    #4

    Re: suggest or suggests

    You can use either, depending on whether you wish to make the subject the words, or the set of words.


    Quote Originally Posted by jamiep View Post
    What is more important?

    If it is the fact that incoherent words were used then we should use suggests. (the reply as a whole)


    However, if the specific words used suggest insanity then we should used suggest. (the words in the reply)

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