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    #1

    what highly gifted students need most is / are....

    Dear all,

    The following is an exerpt from an article titled "coaching the gifted child"

    ...The programs and suggestions described here demonstrate that what highly gifted students need most are good mentors to serve as guides as they navigate complex subject matter. This specialized learning process benefits not only the gifted children but others as well...

    Is "are" in bold correct? I think since "what highly gifted students need most" should be regarded as singular, the verb should be is.

    Or am I missing something?

    Thank you

    OP
    Last edited by optimistic pessimist; 04-Nov-2015 at 14:31.

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    #2

    Re: what highly gifted students need most is / are....

    Students need mentors. There would not be only one mentor for multiple students.

    Try turning the sentence around: 'Mentors are what students need.'

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    #3

    Re: what highly gifted students need most is / are....

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

    This question is often asked in many grammar forums.

    The teacher has given us the answer that is probably the more popular and certainly the more natural sounding.

    Please look at these three sentences.

    1. "What Jane is clutching to her bosom are four kittens."

    2. "What they saw were the white sand cliffs."

    3. "What these gentlemen need are some new moral values."

    As you are probably guessing, according to the traditional rule, each verb in those sentences should be singular.

    So says Wilson Follett in his Modern American Usage (1980).

    But wait: Mr. Follett is a very understanding fellow. He tells us that although the singular is correct, you do not have to use it if you don't want to. He agrees that sometimes such sentences can be "awkward."

    My personal advice:

    (1) If you are taking a test with a very strict teacher who knows traditional English rules, stick with the singular.

    (2) In ordinary speech, use the plural if it sounds more natural to you. It will probably sound more natural to your listeners.

    (3) If you are writing a formal paper at the university, stick with the singular. I am assuming that college (university) professors know the traditional rule, even if they themselves do not follow it.

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