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    #1

    Which as subject

    Hi, when "which" is the subject without nouns after that in the following sentences, can the verb after "which" be in the plural form if I would like to use "which" to refer to the things that are plural?


    For example:


    *A: I read many books. B: Which "make" you want to read again?


    *A: There are many defective piece of the item in the batch. But It can't
    be sure which "have" been sold out?


    *A: I got some tools. B: Which "are" more useful?


    *Which "contain" more vitamin C, oranges or lemons?



    Are the sentence grammatically correct?

  1. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Which as subject

    Quote Originally Posted by ebay1986 View Post
    Hi,

    When "which" is the subject without nouns after that in the following sentences, can the verb after "which" be in the plural form if I would like to use "which" to refer to the things that are plural?

    When the question "Which?" can be answered by "Them," "Those," "They," or "These," treat it as a plural.


    For example:


    *A: I read many books. B: Which "make" you want to read again?


    *A: There are many defective pieces of the item in the batch. But I can't
    be sure which "have" been sold.


    *A: I got some tools. B: Which "are" more useful?


    *Which "contains" more vitamin C, oranges or lemons? When you say "or," the answer must be just one of the two fruits, so it's singular.



    Are the sentences grammatically correct? All but the last one.
    Interesting question!
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

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    #3

    Re: Which as subject

    It should be Which contain more vitamin C, oranges or lemons? "Which" refers to plural nouns so it's plural.To use the singular verb, you'd need singular nouns: Which contains more vitamin C, an orange or a lemon?
    I am not a teacher.

  2. Roman55's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Which as subject

    Although, strictly (not to say pedantically) speaking, the use of the plural appears to be grammatically correct, I'm not at all sure that it is.

    The underlying meaning of the question, 'Which contains more vitamin C, oranges or lemons?' is 'which of them is richer in vitamin C?' This in turn means 'concentration of vitamin C by volume/weight' not per piece of fruit.

    So, 'which contains more vitamin C…?' means 'which categorie contains…?' and seems perfectly natural and correct, to me.

    The use of the plural 'contain' would be correct if the question were really about a number of oranges and a number of lemons, but you would have to specify how many of each in order to be able to answer the question.
    I am not a teacher

  3. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Which as subject

    Yup! I'm correcting myself! Since lemons and oranges are both plural, OF COURSE "contain" should be plural - whether lemons contain more or oranges contain more!

    So sorry, Ebay, your fourth sentence is fine!
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

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