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    #1

    Optional use of singular and plural here?

    I stumbled across an interesting sentence here which, sadly, characterizes the area in which I am currently living.

    "Mopeds using the walkways is/are becoming a rapidly increasing problem in our area."

    In Danish there is no distinction in verb conjugations between singular and plural, so it isn't until we try translating sentences such as these into English that we have to put on our thinking caps.

    My question is, are we able to use both is and are in the above sentence depending on whether we are referring to the "mopeds on walkways phenomenon" as a singular entity or the dozens of individual mopeds that are involved in this activity (i.e. plural) as being a problem.

    Here's hoping to find a solution to both the grammatical and the disruptive aspects of the issue.

    Rgs,
    Bill
    Last edited by Nordic Bill; 01-Aug-2006 at 17:11.

  1. Vlad_the_Inhaler's Avatar

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    #2

    Re: Optional use of singular and plural here?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nordic Bill
    I stumbled across an interesting sentence here which, sadly, characterizes the area in which I am currently living.
    "Mopeds using the walkways is/are becoming a rapidly increasing problem in our area."
    In Danish there is no distinction in verb conjugations between singular and plural, so it isn't until we try translating sentences such as these into English that we have to put on our thinking caps.
    My question is, are we able to use both is and are in the above sentence depending on whether we are referring to the "mopeds on walkways phenomenon" as a singular entity or the dozens of individual mopeds that are involved in this activity (i.e. plural) as being a problem.
    Here's hoping to find a solution to both the grammatical and the disruptive aspects of the issue.
    Rgs,
    Bill
    It is often a problem in English when we want to say (plural noun phrase) = (singular noun phrase),so why not avoid the problem?
    The use of Mopeds on the walkways is becoming a rapidly increasing problem in our area.


    • Join Date: Jul 2006
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    #3

    Re: Optional use of singular and plural here?

    Hi Bill,

    a very interesting example of singular/plural in the same sentence! "Is" works fine with reference to moped use (or, more correctly, moped-riders' use) of the walkways as a specific problem, whilst "are" certainly corresponds grammatically with the problem in terms of the number of moped users on the walkways. Of course, you have to read the sentence twice in order to appreciate both meanings! It may not be aesthetically pleasing, but hey, what about all those poor pedestrians in increasing danger of being mown down by intrusive moped-riders?

    "Conjugations between singular and plural verbs is/are a problem in Denmark." Discuss.

    Regards from the UK

    Mike

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    #4

    Re: Optional use of singular and plural here?

    Hello Bill

    I'd agree that it depends on the nuance you want to express. Thus

    1. Mopeds using the walkways is...

    bundles all the incidents together in a compact, convenient, easy-to-use unit (or "singular entity", as you aptly put it); while

    2. Mopeds using the walkways are...

    brings us whole swarms of angrily buzzing walkway-using mopeds, every one of which is a separate problem.

    I'd suggest a small investment in a box of caltrops.

    All the best,

    MrP


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    #5

    Re: Optional use of singular and plural here?

    Thanks for the input, everyone.

    Vlad, your version is a good one and I think I will stick with that one. And MrPedantic - I will keep the caltrops in mind. Now you're my kind of neighbour!

    Rgs,
    Bill

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