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    #1

    A question on subject and verb agreement

    Could you tell me why the following sentence takes a singular verb-to-be rather than the plural?
    "One and a half apples is left on the plate."

    In addition, we use a singular verb after "a pair of spectacles is lying on the table."
    But a plural verb after "The glasses are lying on the table." What are the reasons behind them?

    Thank you for helping.
    Last edited by albertino; 27-Aug-2007 at 13:08.

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    #2

    Re: A question on subject and verb agreement

    Quote Originally Posted by albertino View Post
    Could you tell me why the following sentence takes a singular verb-to-be rather than the plural?
    "One and a half apples is left on the plate."

    In addition, we use a singular verb after "a pair of spectacles is lying on the table."
    But a plural verb after "The glasses are lying on the table." What are the reasons behind them?

    Thank you for helping.
    1. The subject is one.It’s a singular subject even though it contains two elements –one and a half . This is an example of the “principle of nonintervention.” That is, the intervening phrases following the subject should be ignored when it comes to deciding the correct verb.
    One apple [and a half of an apple] is left on the plate.

    2.".. a pair of spectacles is lying on the table." - pair is the subject here and it is in the singular, so it takes a verb in the singular.

    3. The glasses are lying on the table.
    glasses - subject ; it has a plural form. Glasses is one of the nouns that appear only in the plural form , meaning spectacles- it is called pluralia tantum.

    Note :not to be confused with the noun glass , which can be either an uncountable noun, meaning the material glass, or a countable noun[glass - glasses] meaning a drinking vessel from which people drink.

    e.g. This plate is made of glass -material.
    He poured some wine in that Murano glass - drinking vessel [sg. glass, pl. glasses].
    I`ve bought a pair of modern glasses [eyeglasses or spectacles].

  1. blouen's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: A question on subject and verb agreement

    Quote Originally Posted by teia_petrescu View Post
    1. The subject is one.It’s a singular subject even though it contains two elements –one and a half . This is an example of the “principle of nonintervention.” That is, the intervening phrases following the subject should be ignored when it comes to deciding the correct verb.
    One apple [and a half of an apple] is left on the plate.
    Hi Teia,

    Isn´t ¨one and a half¨ the number of apples left on the table. It means that there are more than just one apple on the table but 1 1/2. Why would we ignore it? Shouldn´t it be plural instead? [a question from a doubter ]

    No doubts on the second subject.

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    #4

    Re: A question on subject and verb agreement

    I agree with blouen. I would have said "One and a half apples areon the table," and I can't think of a valid reason why it should be considered singular since it is more than one. You would say, "One apple is on the table," and "One apple and one pear are on the table." Why does changing the pear to a half apple change the subject count? There are two items on the table; they are the subject of the sentence; therefore, the sentence has a plural subject.

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    #5

    Re: A question on subject and verb agreement

    Most grammarians would say one and a half apples (not * apple), one and a half kilometers (not* kilometer), one and a half hours (not* hour) & etc. The noun phrase ‘one and a half apples’ are plural and hence ‘One and a half apples are in the table.’

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    #6

    Re: A question on subject and verb agreement

    Quote Originally Posted by Buddhaheart View Post
    Most grammarians would say one and a half apples (not * apple), one and a half kilometers (not* kilometer), one and a half hours (not* hour) & etc. The noun phrase ‘one and a half apples’ are plural and hence ‘One and a half apples are in the table.’
    I think it depends on what kind of principle one uses to make one's point.

    So, some of you are using the "principle of nonintervention" while the others are using the "principle of proximity".

  2. blouen's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: A question on subject and verb agreement

    [QUOTE=albertino;204178]I think it depends on what kind of principle one uses t
    Take the post of Mykwyner, what we´re talking about here is the number of apples on the table. And when things get more than one, automatically it´s plural. One and a half is apparently more than one and should be plural and should have a plural verb.

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