Results 1 to 4 of 4
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Turkish
      • Home Country:
      • Turkey
      • Current Location:
      • Turkey

    • Join Date: Sep 2014
    • Posts: 685
    #1

    All she saw (was/were) the same white walls

    Hi,

    - All she saw was/were the same white walls of the hospital.

    Could you please tell me which one I should use - was or were? To me, both could be OK, but I am not that sure. (P.S I tried to write such a sentence)

    Thanks.

  1. MikeNewYork's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 24,983
    #2

    Re: All she saw (was/were) the same white walls

    I would use "were".

  2. Raymott's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia

    • Join Date: Jun 2008
    • Posts: 24,104
    #3

    Re: All she saw (was/were) the same white walls

    'All' can be used with a singular verb, as in "All she saw was a white wall". You have to choose the verb before you get to the noun which determines the verb though.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Dec 2009
    • Posts: 6,332
    #4

    Re: All she saw (was/were) the same white walls

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



    Hello, Ademoglu:

    1. I agree that "All she saw were the same white walls of the hospital" sounds the most natural.

    2. There may still be a few very strict teachers in 2014, however, who feel that the "correct" answer is "was."

    a. One expert* feels that "all" = "the one thing." Therefore he gives examples like these:

    i. "All that came to him ... was voices."
    ii. "Well, all you need is a cup of molasses, 2 teaspoons of vinegar, 3/4 cup of sugar."
    iii. "All that remained to be done was the small jobs of touching up and adding refinements here and there."

    b. Another expert ** says this: "When all is the subject of the verb to be followed by a plural complement, the linking verb is expressed in the singular."
    He gives this example: "All I saw was fields."

    c. But even in the 1930s, yet another expert *** admitted that many people were speaking like this: "All that we found of the deer were the ragged hide, some patches of hair, cracked bones, and two long ears."


    My respectful advice:

    1. If you want to speak natural-sounding English, you should consider following the advice given by the two teachers in this thread.
    2. Hopefully, no teacher will have this kind of question on a test, for there are, in the opinion of many people, two "correct" answers.
    3. I think that it would take a lot of courage to use the singular in your sentence, for many native speakers would probably tell you that you have made a "mistake."


    James


    * Wilson Follett, Modern American Usage (1980). Some people consider Mr. Follett much too strict (old-fashioned!).
    ** R.W. Burchfield, New Fowler's Modern English Usage (1996). Doctor Burchfield was a distinguished scholar, whose positions included Chief Editor of the Oxford English Dictionaries. Nevertheless, some people do not agree with some of his opinions.
    *** George Oliver Curme, A Grammar of the English Language (1931). Some people criticize him for being old-fashioned, but he was modern enough even in 1931 to observe that many people were not observing the "rule."

Similar Threads

  1. marks on the walls
    By English4everyone in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 08-Dec-2012, 15:13
  2. [Vocabulary] Difference between 'Cold white weapon' and 'White weapon'.
    By Veronica 222 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 07-May-2012, 13:22
  3. [Idiom] walls have ears
    By maiabulela in forum English Idioms and Sayings
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 07-Jun-2010, 02:50
  4. Climbing the walls..
    By inquirer75 in forum English Idioms and Sayings
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 27-Aug-2006, 12:10
  5. the differences between white and off-white
    By Anonymous in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 09-Mar-2004, 17:39

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •