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    #1

    TO BE with Plural subject and Singular object

    Hi everyone !

    I have a sentence: "Speaking and writing about common things are what I can do. But academic speaking and writing (to be) a different story."

    I know that I should put ARE into the blank because of the S-V agreement in grammar books. But doesn't it sound awkward to you ? Because, to me, it does. I think "IS a different story" is more ok to me, but clearly that it will break the rule.

    Please enlighten me on this matter. Is there only subject-verb agreement, or is there something else ? (like verb-object or subject-object agreement, logic ?)

    Thank you.

  1. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: TO BE with Plural subject and Singular object

    The whole thing is a mess. It doesn't make any sense. The second half (starting with "But") is totally ungrammatical. What are "common things"? What do you mean by "are what I can do"?
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #3

    Re: TO BE with Plural subject and Singular object

    If you think of academic writing and speaking as a single unit, then the singular works fine.

    There is the idea of proximity- we often choose the verb based on what it is next to rather than mathematical accuracy because it sounds better:
    There's a dog and a cat fighting outside. (There are a dog... sounds odd to many speakers, so they use the singular even though there are two animals)

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    #4

    Re: TO BE with Plural subject and Singular object

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    The whole thing is a mess. It doesn't make any sense. The second half (starting with "But") is totally ungrammatical. What are "common things"? What do you mean by "are what I can do"?
    I thought that "about common things" is to modify the two subjects, which are "speaking and writing". That is why I used "are". But if you find it odd or ungrammatical, I think I will change to "Common speaking and writing are...". Maybe that will help

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    #5

    Re: TO BE with Plural subject and Singular object

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    If you think of academic writing and speaking as a single unit, then the singular works fine.

    There is the idea of proximity- we often choose the verb based on what it is next to rather than mathematical accuracy because it sounds better:
    There's a dog and a cat fighting outside. (There are a dog... sounds odd to many speakers, so they use the singular even though there are two animals)
    So, it depend on what I think of them. That means if I think of them as a single unit, I use the singular. But if I think of them as serveral ones, I should use the plural, right ?


    Thank you :D

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    #6

    Re: TO BE with Plural subject and Singular object

    As long as there are reasons for thinking this way, yes.

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: TO BE with Plural subject and Singular object

    S​o what are "common speaking and writing"?
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  3. Raymott's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: TO BE with Plural subject and Singular object

    You can solve "Speaking and writing about common things are/is what I can do" by saying "What I can do is speak and write about common things. But academic speaking and writing are beyond me."

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