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  1. Crowned 91's Avatar
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    #1

    Subject-verb agreement

    Hello!

    I am quite uncertain about some subject-verb agreement rules.

    Examples:
    1)Here are a few useful expressions.
    2)There are a lot of people.
    3)There are two books and a pen.
    4)There is a pen and two books.
    5)There is a pen and a book.
    6)Two books and a pen is on the floor.
    7)A pen and two books are on the floor.
    8)A pen and a book is on the floor.
    9)The Beatles are better than the Rolling Stones.
    10)This band is better than that.(The band seen as a single unit?)
    11)This band are better than that.(The individuals?)
    12)Manchester United is stronger than Liverpool.(The team as a single unit?)
    13)Manchester United are stronger than Liverpool.(The players?)
    14)The Alps is beautiful.(The range?)
    15)The Alps are beautiful.(The mountains which make up the range?)
    16)The Great Lakes were frozen.
    17)Lufthansa is/are a German company.
    18)The United States is a big country.

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    #2

    Re: Subject-verb agreement

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****

    Hello, Crowned:

    I am 100% sure that today we always refer to the United States of America as one nation. Therefore, your #18 is, indeed, correct.
    For example, the Los Angeles Times, my local newspaper, is considered to be one of the best American newspapers.

    Before our Civil War (1861 -1865), many people felt that this country was a voluntary union of independent states. So at that time, people did prefer to say "The United States are ...." After the Civil War, people started to feel that this was, in fact, one single nation. Therefore, people started to use "is" instead of "are."



    James
    Last edited by TheParser; 16-Aug-2014 at 10:46. Reason: I changed a verb

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    #3

    Re: Subject-verb agreement

    I wouldn't use 6/8/14. As a British English speaker, I routinely use the plural form with collective nouns, so I am not really making a distinction about thinking about the players rather than a single unit. I doubt, for instance, that I would use the singular at all with bands. However, if the single unit aspect were particularly important, I would use the singular.

  2. Roman55's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Subject-verb agreement

    I am not a teacher.

    I wouldn't use 6/8/11/14, and for 17 I'd use is.

    About 11, I would never say 'This band are better than that', but I would say '[name of band] are better than that'

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    #5

    Re: Subject-verb agreement

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Hello, Crowned:

    Now that you have received two more replies, I feel a little more confident.

    So I will tell you how I understand the "there" rule.

    *****

    A. There ___ a computer and three books on the table.

    1. For analysis, ignore the "there."
    2. Put the other words in regular order: A computer and three books ___ on the table. (Regular order = subject + verb.)
    a. Of course, you would use "are" in the space.
    3. Now return to the original sentence, and you get "There are a computer and three books on the table."

    BAD NEWS:

    4. Most native speakers here in the United States do NOT follow that rule.
    5. They think that it sounds strange to say "There are a computer ...."
    6. THEREFORE, most native speakers would say "There is a computer and three books on the table."

    In my opinion, this kind of question should NOT be on a test. It is not fair to the students, for there is the book rule, and there is the "rule" that native speakers follow.



    James

  3. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Subject-verb agreement

    Quote Originally Posted by Crowned 91 View Post
    Hello!

    I am quite uncertain about some subject-verb agreement rules.

    Examples:
    1)Here are a few useful expressions.
    2)There are a lot of people.
    3)There are two books and a pen.
    4)There are a pen and two books. [There are three things.]
    5)There are a pen and a book. [There are two things.]
    6)Two books and a pen are on the floor. [There are three things on the floor.]
    7)A pen and two books are on the floor.
    8)A pen and a book are on the floor. [Two things are on the floor.]
    9)The Beatles are better than the Rolling Stones.
    10)This band is better than that. [In American, the band is one unit. In British, it's more than one.]
    11)This band are better than that. [Again, Americans say is, and the British say are.]
    12)Manchester United is stronger than Liverpool. [Correct to Americans, wrong to the British.]
    13)Manchester United are stronger than Liverpool. [Are in British, is in American.]
    14)The Alps are beautiful. [Because it's plural, like the Beatles and Stones, use are. There are exceptions. Parser pointed out one above: Proper names of some places, like the United States and the Lesser Antibes, and most written and performed works, like The Times, Cats, and Gulliver's Travels, are treated as singular. Be patient. You'll learn.]
    15)The Alps are beautiful.
    16)The Great Lakes were frozen.
    17)Lufthansa is/are a German company. [Are in British, is in American.]
    18)The United States is a big country. [Are in British, is in American.]
    In general:

    1. If it's one thing, use is and was.

    2. If it's more than one thing, use are and were.

    3. A group (an army, a band, Parliament, Spain, the Democratic Party) is treated as plural by the British and singular by Americans. (And because I said is there, you know I'm an American!)
    Last edited by Charlie Bernstein; 17-Aug-2014 at 03:05.

  4. Roman55's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Subject-verb agreement

    I am not a teacher.

    'In American' could be understood to mean 'in the variety of English spoken in North America', but it is usually expressed as AmE or AE. There is no language called British.

    It is very misleading, for learners, to assert that XXX is plural in BrE and singular in AmE. It would be more accurate to say that in AmE the singular is preferred whereas in BrE both are possible depending on where the emphasis lies.

    I also disagree with this, 'There are a pen and a book'. If the verb 'be' follows singular nouns joined by 'and' it will be in the plural, but if it precedes the nouns it is usual for it to agree with the first noun.
    'There is a pen and a book'
    'There is a pen and two books'
    'There are two books and a pen'

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    #8

    Re: Subject-verb agreement

    As a BrE speaker, I would always use There is a pen and a book, and never a plural verb.

  5. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: Subject-verb agreement

    I would use "There are a pen and a book on the table". Restating the sentence, it would be "A pen and book are on the table".

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    #10

    Re: Subject-verb agreement

    The restating works for me, but there are doesn't work at all.

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