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    #1

    The shoplifter grabbed a handful of pears and stuffed it/them

    The shoplifter grabbed a handful of pears and stuffed it/them into his bag.

    Which word in bold should I use? I think it should be 'them' because the subject, I believe, is 'pears'.

    Thanks.

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    #2

    Re: The shoplifter grabbed a handful of pears and stuffed it/them

    The subject is "a handful" or "a handful of pears". Nevertheless, "stuffed them" is natural while "stuffed it" is pedantic.
    Last edited by abaka; 30-Aug-2012 at 08:55.

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    #3

    Re: The shoplifter grabbed a handful of pears and stuffed it/them

    'Stuffed it' sounds like you're referring to a single item, while saying 'stuffed them' sounds like you're referring to many.




    Not a teacher....Yet
    Last edited by HanibalII; 30-Aug-2012 at 09:21.

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    #4

    Re: The shoplifter grabbed a handful of pears and stuffed it/them

    It depends on whether "a handful of" meets the criteria for an expression of quantity or not. When a noun is determined by an expression of quantity, the noun remains the subject - even if the expression of quantity involves a preposition. For example, the following sentence:

    A number of people in this room are guilty, and we expect to find them.
    Note that the subject (for the purposes of subject/verb agreement) is "people", even though it is preceded by the preposition "of". More relevant to your example is the fact that the pronoun "them" finds its antecedent in the noun "people", and not "A number".


    Back to your sentence. Here, you are using "a handful of" to measure the approximate amount or number of something (ie, pears). You can make the case that "a handful of" is here an expression of quantity. When you're It is, therefore, entirely acceptable to say "The shoplifter grabbed a handful of pears and stuffed them into his bag."

    If you try to say "stuffed it into his bag", then you're saying that the pronoun takes its antecedent from "a handful". That might have some logic, but it's kind of like saying "Measure out one cup of raisins and add it to the batter." You're only adding the raisins, not the cup.

  1. BobK's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: The shoplifter grabbed a handful of pears and stuffed it/them

    PS They must be pretty small pears; or maybe the shoplifter is endowed with enormous hands. ;-;

    b

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