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  1. #1
    whl626 is offline Member
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    ( is ) or ( are ) Chinese ?

    More than one fifth of the world population is or are Chinese ?

  2. #2
    Red5 is offline Webmaster, UsingEnglish.com
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    Aaaah, this old bugbear!
    I'm not a teacher, so please consider any advice I give in that context.

  3. #3
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    Re: ( is ) or ( are ) Chinese ?

    Quote Originally Posted by whl626
    More than one fifth of the world population is or are Chinese ?
    In English, a verb argrees in number with its subject. Consider,

    Chinese speakers make up one fifth of the world's population.
    Subject = Chinese speakers (they, plural)
    Verb = make up (plural)

    One fifth of the world's population is made up of Chinese speakers.
    Subject = One fifth of the population (it, singular)
    Verb = is (singular)

    Now,

    One fifth of the population (singular) is (singular) Chinese.

    :D

  4. #4
    whl626 is offline Member
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    Even though I know so well about the agreement. But to Oriental people, they dare not use ( is ) :(. It doesn't sound right to them :P.

    This makes me wonder if there is exception.

    But to double confirm is a good thing to clear up the mess once and for all :)

    Thanks Cas

  5. #5
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    In British English, we don't really care much about the distinction between singular and plural in such cases and will happily use both 'is' and 'are'. I would say that the majority would go for the plural. Many AE speakers find this strange, but we say 'the team is\are' without any concern.

  6. #6
    whl626 is offline Member
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    Huh, tdol

    This is what I want to hear :) Well, I would stick to the root of the grammar but give some leeway for the exception :)

  7. #7
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    To us it's a matter of interprtation. If you say 'the company is', then you view it as an identity. If you use the plural, you see it as a collection of individuals. We feel either view is OK.

  8. #8
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    RonBee is offline Moderator
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    I agree with Cas that it should be One fifth of the world's population is Chinese. The subject is one fifth, which is singular.

    :D

  9. #9
    CitySpeak Guest
    And if the subject is "two fifths"?



  10. #10
    RonBee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CitySpeak
    And if the subject is "two fifths"?


    Then it is two fifths are.

    :D

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