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    #1

    What

    When the pronoun what is used as the subject of a sentence, is it always singular?

  1. BobK's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: What

    I imagine you mean - predominantly - in cleft sentences that have 'What' as the subject:

    'What I want is a nice hot bath.'

    No problem there. But when the thing wanted is plural, views differ. Swan says
    A what-clause is normally considered to be singular; if it begins a cleft sentence it is followed by is/was. But a plural verb is sometimes possible before a plural noun in an informal style. [My emphasis.]
    Practical English Usage, 130,1.

    So use the singular (which some people prefer anyway - me, for example ) in an exam. What I do, when there is a plural complement, is invert the cleft sentence: 'More people like that are what we need.' (This doesn't solve the problem, but it 'papers over the cracks'. )

    b

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    #3

    Re: What

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post

    A what-clause is normally considered to be singular; if it begins a cleft sentence it is followed by is/was. But a plural verb is sometimes possible before a plural noun in an informal style. [My emphasis.]

    b
    Yes, this is exactly the answer I was looking for.

    Thank you, BobK.

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