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  1. keannu's Avatar
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    #1

    What really catches her attention is

    This seems to be the irregular rule of plural and singluar application. While in 1, singluar "is" applied to "what clause" for plural "ads", in 2 "are" is applied to plural "fur seals". Is this rule really flexible? But I have seem to seen more "singular" for what clause with a plural complement.

    1. he has some free time before her afternoon classes (B)[start/will start]. She decides ⓒto take a brief tour of the school library. She is ⓓamazed by the number of books there. What really catches her attention (C)[is/are] the student club ads on the bulletin board. She wonders to ⓔherself, "Which club should I join?"


    2. Mostly, 1)what I remember are the fur seals.

  2. Ali Hsn's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: What really catches her attention is

    Hello!

    *I AM NOT A TEACHER OR NATIVE.*

    One of the rules I've studied says: "Collective nouns such as team and staff may be either singular or plural depending on their use in the sentence." ("Rule 15", here on grammarbook.com).
    In "1", we don't want to address every "ad" individually. In this context the set as a whole is emphasized. *
    And in "2", considering its context, "are" is used because a key scene the speaker remembers is the group of fur seals and no matter if they've been a few or a lot in number, they have caught his/her attention.

    * In my opinion both the cases are context-dependent and what a writer/speaker wants to say and emphasize on may play a key role in choosing the best verb. In a different story both the sentences above may employ the other verb.
    Last edited by Ali Hsn; 16-Apr-2014 at 14:49.

  3. keannu's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: What really catches her attention is

    The rule says it depends on "their use", but it doesn't indicate what use it is. Your points are quite convincing, could you let me know where you got the idea or is this a rule-less rule depending on writers' mood or instant decision?

    Rule 15

    Collective nouns such as team and staff may be either singular or plural depending on their use in the sentence.

  4. Ali Hsn's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: What really catches her attention is

    Hello!

    *I AM NOT A TEACHER OR NATIVE.*

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    The rule says it depends on "their use", but it doesn't indicate what use it is. Your points are quite convincing, could you let me know where you got the idea or is this a rule-less rule depending on writers' mood or instant decision?

    Rule 15

    Collective nouns such as team and staff may be either singular or plural depending on their use in the sentence.
    Considering the examples in "Rule 15", "their use in the sentence" seems to point out the purpose and meaning for which a collective noun is used.
    Let's take the first two examples into consideration:

    "The staff is in a meeting. > (Staff is acting as a unit here.)
    The staff are in disagreement about the findings. > (The staff are acting as separate individuals in this example.)"

    The descriptions above don't address any structural or grammatical point but point out the meaning each collective noun conveys in its context.

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