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    #1

    Verb agreement with "a set"

    As the title speaks for itself, would you please be kind enough to let me know which of the following sentences is correct? Is "a set of sth" an indefinite pronoun? If yes, the correct choice must be the first one, right?

    A set of rules govern our society.
    A set of rules governs our society.

  1. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Verb agreement with "a set"

    Of the two I would use the second one. However, I probably wouldn't use that form of words to express the idea.

  2. Piscean's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Verb agreement with "a set"

    'A set of something' is a noun phrase, not a pronoun.

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    #4

    Re: Verb agreement with "a set"

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


    Hello, Toloue_man:

    As I understand it, the word "set" in your sentence is called a collective noun.

    The rule seems to be this: If YOU consider "set" as one unit, then use the singular verb; if YOU are thinking of the plural noun after the word "of," then use the plural verb.

    I agree with the teacher who suggested the singular verb for your sentence: A set [collection] of rules governs our society.

    I did some googling and discovered that some people, however, prefer "govern," for they seem to be thinking of "rules."

    *****

    By coincidence, I saw these two headlines on Yahoo News today:

    "A wave of migrants crosses into [name of country]."
    "Thousands of migrants cross into [name of country]."

    As you can see, the headline writer considered "wave" as a collection, a unit. I have no doubt, however, that some speakers might prefer the plural verb in the first headline, the word "migrants" being the most important one in their minds.
    Last edited by TheParser; 24-Aug-2015 at 14:00.

  3. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Verb agreement with "a set"

    I would also use the "governs" to agree with the subject.

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    #6

    Re: Verb agreement with "a set"

    In British English, you could use either.

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