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    #1

    Who was/were with her?

    Who was/were with her? (her classmates and her physical education teacher)

    The people who were with her are stated in brackets.

    In this case, which verb should I use?

    Thanks.

  1. Roman55's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Who was/were with her?

    I am not a teacher.

    Was.

  2. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Who was/were with her?

    If it were known that multiple people were present, "were" would be more appropriate.

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    #4

    Re: Who was/were with her?

    I think most BE speakers would ask 'Who was with her?' even if it were known that multiple people were present.

  3. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Who was/were with her?

    Why?

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    #6

    Re: Who was/were with her?

    I am not a teacher.

    Because in this sort of question when you are trying to determine the identity of the subject it is perfectly natural to use the singular.

    Talking to a class of children, "Who wants to go on a field trip?" is more natural than "Who want to go on a field trip?"
    Once you know that 15 of them are going but you don't know who they are, the natural question is "Who is going on the trip?" not "Who are going on the trip?"

    Contrast this with, "Who are the lucky ones going on the field trip?".

    I don't think this has anything to do with a BrE preference.

    I would never ask, "Who were with her?"

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    #7

    Re: Who was/were with her?

    I am with Roman on this.
    I would say "Who are all those people?" or "Who were those people with her?" but not "Who are/were with her?"
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #8

    Re: Who was/were with her?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    Why?
    It's probably part of the endless struggle with the issues of singular and plural. I would use was with this wording even if I knew for certain that ten people were with her. The plural verb does sound very strange to me here. There are ways of avoiding the issue, but sticking to these words, I'd only use was.

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    #9

    Re: Who was/were with her?

    'Who was with her?' is [almost] the same question as 'Who was she with?' and expects the same answer. I can't imagine many people wondering whether 'were' might be more appropriate in the first.

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