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    #1

    Question A sentence

    "It is the examples, the illustrations, the anecdotal evidence that is long remembered."

    The longer I am the user of this forum and the learner here, the less I am astonished by astonishing (for me, of course) replies. I am sure there is a logical and concrete explanation for why at the end of the above sentence the singular is used.

    Thanks,
    Nyggus

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    #2

    Re: A sentence

    Hello Nyggus,

    There seem to be three possible explanations:

    1. The speaker wishes to imply that the examples, illustrations, and evidence form a composite whole.

    2. The number of the verb reflects the number of the nearest noun.

    3. Carelessness.

    I hope it's #1; but fear it's #3.

    MrP

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    #3

    Re: A sentence

    Here's my humble opinion:

    "It is the examples, the illustrations, the anecdotal evidence that is long remembered."

    If the subject of the sentence is it, then is remembered would be the correct predicate.

    Of course, I could be completely wrong.

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    #4

    Re: A sentence

    Thanks you both.

    I don't believe it's carelessness since this is quoted from the book on how to write in English, written by a native English speaker with an Oxford PhD in the English language. Yes, yes, I know, it may mean nothing, I know that very well, but still.

    Feel a bit astonished but still not convinced. Should I construct the similar sentences in my own writing? Say,
    "It is them who is a bad guy".
    OR
    "It is we all, you and me and Mark, who is a boy".

    I know these examples may be thought of as a bit different from that in question, but... may they indeed?

    As you see, I'm trying to look into the deepest matter of the matter, if that could be said .

    Nyggus

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    #5

    Re: A sentence

    Well, I too find the original slightly odd; I would have written "are". But as I say, perhaps the speaker wanted to imply a composite entity.

    Here are plenty of examples of the "are" form, e.g.

    1. It's the sun and the beaches and the high-octane nightlife that are the main lures to 'the island of Aphrodite'.

    2. In most predator-prey relationships it's the young, the old and the weak that are the most vulnerable.

    3. It's not the oil, the filth, and the poisonous chemicals that are the cause of pollution.

    4. And it's not just the buildings and the trees that are remembered.

    Here, on the other hand, "references" and "funding" seem to be taken as a composite whole:

    5. It's the references and the funding that is the tricky part.

    Your examples are slightly different, as it doesn't make sense to think of the items as a single entity. So I would have said:

    6. It is them/(they) who are the bad guys".

    probably "them", as "they" seems not to accord with the register of "bad guys".

    7. It's all of us, you and me and Mark, who are boys.

    though it's quite difficult to think of a context!

    All the best,

    MrP

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    #6

    Re: A sentence

    Thanks, MrP, got your point and now feel convinced. But, and in such cases there always are some buts, IMO this composite entity you wrote about needs to be indeed the entity, which would imply the items it's comprised of should indeed be something, the entity. And let's look at the sentence in question:
    "It is the examples, the illustrations, the anecdotal evidence that is long remembered."
    I know I gave it without context, so just a brief explanation. It was about writing, which to be convincing should include these "the examples, the illustrations, the anecdotal evidence". Knowing that and keeping in mind that they are to be thought of as an entity, it'd mean that all of them should be in a piece of writing, not just the examples, or just the illustrations, or just the anecdotal evidence, or any combination of any two of them. Am I right? I mean, I would understand it like this keeping in mind this entity-thing we're discussing here.

    A bit messy, I know. Note I am not trying to undermine the entity-thing from the discussion, as I accept it and understand it and all, but am trying to understand why in this particular sentence in question the author used this type of construction.

    Nyggus

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    #7

    Re: A sentence

    Hi MrPedantic

    6. It is them/(they) who are the bad guys".

    probably "them", as "they" seems not to accord with the register of "bad guys".

    Here is what I found:

    it is I who, it is they who


    These locutions preserve the nominative case pronouns in predicate nominative functions, perhaps in part because the nominative who follows immediately and therefore agrees with the preceding predicate nominative. Such usages are typically found at the upper levels; most Conversational and Informal uses would start out It is me.
    source:it is I who, it is they who. The Columbia Guide to Standard American English. 1993

    All the best

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    #8

    Re: A sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by teia_petrescu View Post
    These locutions preserve the nominative case pronouns in predicate nominative functions, perhaps in part because the nominative who follows immediately and therefore agrees with the preceding predicate nominative.


    (Fortunately, I don't have too understand it to use the construction well...)

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    #9

    Re: A sentence

    Hello TP,

    Quote Originally Posted by teia_petrescu View Post
    Such usages are typically found at the upper levels; most Conversational and Informal uses would start out It is me.
    Yes, I would agree with that. The example can be upper-level-ified with a slight adjustment:

    1. It is they who are "the bad guys".

    MrP

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    #10

    Re: A sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by nyggus View Post
    ...trying to understand why in this particular sentence in question the author used this type of construction.
    1. It is the examples, the illustrations, the anecdotal evidence that is long remembered

    Well, I must admit, I find it very difficult to understand why myself. If I had proof-read the original manuscript, I would have struck out "is" and replaced it with "are"; and then I would have queried "long remembered" ("likely to be long remembered" would have been better, perhaps).

    Another possibility: it may be that the lack of an "and" in the sentence indicates that "examples", "illustrations", and "anecdotal evidence" are regarded by the author as appositional in some way (i.e. as different ways of expressing the same idea).

    It would not surprise me too much to find anomalies in the writings of an Oxford PhD. You can find grammatical errors in the writings of David Crystal, for instance, one of the more prolific and popular writers on grammar. (Is yours a well known author, out of interest?)

    All the best,

    MrP

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