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    #1

    what there wasn’t were many people

    I found the following sentence in this article.

    But what there wasn’t were many people.

    Is this sentence correct? I would rather say

    But what there wasn't was many people.

  1. tzfujimino's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: what there wasn’t were many people

    Hello.
    I've never seen such a construction.
    Could it be because of the word 'people' ?
    It must be a tough one, since it is confusing you.

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    #3

    Re: what there wasn’t were many people

    Quote Originally Posted by tzfujimino View Post
    Hello.
    I've never seen such a construction.
    Could it be because of the word 'people' ?
    It must be a tough one, since it is confusing you.
    Hi! Yes, I think the plural noun "people" is what made the author use the plural form "were". I just think it's not correct, or at least inconsistent, since he uses the singular "wasn't" with the same subject "what" in the same sentence.

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    #4

    Re: what there wasn’t were many people

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    I found the following sentence in this article.

    But what there wasn’t were many people.

    Is this sentence correct? I would rather say

    But what there wasn't was many people.
    But you would not say "there was many people" so your edit sounds wrong. Stick with the original.

    Re-ordered: What wasn't there were many people.

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    #5

    Re: what there wasn’t were many people

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    Hi! I just think it's not correct, or at least inconsistent, since he uses the singular "wasn't" with the same subject "what" in the same sentence.
    I agree. Let's wait for other people to reply.

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    #6

    Re: what there wasn’t were many people

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    But you would not say "there was many people" so your edit sounds wrong. Stick with the original.
    I wouldn't. However, I would say

    What struck me was the people shouting and cheering on the streets.

    and not

    What struck me were the people shouting and cheering on the streets.

    Google has 1,700,000 hits for "what struck me was the people", and 13,800 for "what struck me were the people".

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    #7

    Re: what there wasn’t were many people

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    Re-ordered: What wasn't there were many people.
    This re-ordered version still doesn't convince me. I would still use the singular "was" here because I think that the verb's subject is "what wasn't there", which I think is singular in English.

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    #8

    Re: what there wasn’t were many people

    I agree with your "struck" examples.

    This is definitely an interesting case. "Was" may very well be the "correct" answer but it sounds wrong.

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    #9

    Re: what there wasn’t were many people

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    This re-ordered version still doesn't convince me. I would still use the singular "was" here because I think that the verb's subject is "what wasn't there", which I think is singular in English.
    I think the instinct is to hear "there were many people" as a phrase.

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    #10

    Re: what there wasn’t were many people

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    I agree with your "struck" examples.

    This is definitely an interesting case. "Was" may very well be the "correct" answer but it sounds wrong.
    Thank you. It doesn't sound wrong to me, but I have to agree that the original sounds better, though I have no idea why. Perhaps the double "was" doesn't sound so good? Perhaps a native speaker will try not to use it whenever possible?

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