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    #1

    A matter of Concord

    Could you tell me why the singular verbs rather than plural are used in the following sentences?
    ·A series of events over the past year has helped public confidence in the government.
    ·There has been a series of sexual attacks on women in the area.
    A total of 230 employees were laid off. But, A wide range of washing machines and refrigerators is displayed in our showroom.

    According to the proximity principle, I was wondering if I could use all plurals after those sentences. Please advise and thanks.

  1. Soup's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: A matter of Concord

    Hi Deepurple

    Accord depends on semantics:

    1. A series (of events) has helped...
    2. (A total of 250) employees were laid off.
    3. A range (of washing machines)...is displayed...

    Now, given the proximity principle, speakers might use a plural verb in 1. and 3., but not in 2. as that would change the semantics:

    1. (A series of) events have helped... [proximity principle]
    2. A total was laid off.
    3. (A range of) machines are displayed [proximity principle]


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    #3

    Re: A matter of Concord

    Quote Originally Posted by Soup View Post
    Hi Deepurple

    Accord depends on semantics:

    1. A series (of events) has helped...
    2. (A total of 250) employees were laid off.
    3. A range (of washing machines)...is displayed...

    Now, given the proximity principle, speakers might use a plural verb in 1. and 3., but not in 2. as that would change the semantics:

    1. (A series of) events have helped... [proximity principle]
    2. A total was laid off.
    3. (A range of) machines are displayed [proximity principle]

    Hi, pea. Long time no see.
    Is the above agreement priniciple aslo applied to "a variety of...'"?
    Thanks a lot.

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    #4

    Re: A matter of Concord

    Hi

    I found this on another site:

    The Wall Street Journal's stylebook entry on collective nouns advises that with words such as variety, number and total, [and group] a rule of thumb is to use a singular verb when the article the precedes the noun and a plural verb when the article a is used.

    So "The number," "the total," and "the variety" have a singular meaning. But "a number," "a total," and "a variety" take a plural verb.


    The advice, though, doesn't fit my native patterns. I'd say "a total of ... is..." Which doesn't mean to say I am right, but more so to clarify that what is written about usage isn't necessarily what people actually say or write.

    In keeping with that thought, this is what the American Heritage Dictionary has to say about "variety of":

    agreement by proximity. Certain grammatical constructions provide further complications. Sometimes the noun that is adjacent to the verb can exert more influence than the noun that is the grammatical subject. Selecting a verb in a sentence like A variety of styles has been/have been in vogue for the last year can be tricky. The traditional rules require has been, but the plural sense of the noun phrase presses for have been. While 59 percent of the Usage Panel insists on the singular verb in this sentence, 22 percent actually prefer the plural verb and another 19 percent say that either has or have is acceptable, meaning that 41 percent find the plural verb with a singular grammatical subject to be acceptable.

    Source: § 60. subject and verb agreement. 1. Grammar. The American Heritage Book of English Usage. 1996

    There are more sources here:
    "a variety" singular plural verb - Google Search



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    #5

    Re: A matter of Concord

    Quote Originally Posted by Soup View Post
    Hi

    I found this on another site:



    The Wall Street Journal's stylebook entry on collective nouns advises that with words such as variety, number and total, [and group] a rule of thumb is to use a singular verb when the article the precedes the noun and a plural verb when the article a is used.



    So "The number," "the total," and "the variety" have a singular meaning. But "a number," "a total," and "a variety" take a plural verb.
    The advice, though, doesn't fit my native patterns. I'd say "a total of ... is..." Which doesn't mean to say I am right, but more so to clarify that what is written about usage isn't necessarily what people actually say or write.

    In keeping with that thought, this is what the American Heritage Dictionary has to say about "variety of":

    agreement by proximity. Certain grammatical constructions provide further complications. Sometimes the noun that is adjacent to the verb can exert more influence than the noun that is the grammatical subject. Selecting a verb in a sentence like A variety of styles has been/have been in vogue for the last year can be tricky. The traditional rules require has been, but the plural sense of the noun phrase presses for have been. While 59 percent of the Usage Panel insists on the singular verb in this sentence, 22 percent actually prefer the plural verb and another 19 percent say that either has or have is acceptable, meaning that 41 percent find the plural verb with a singular grammatical subject to be acceptable.

    There are more sources here:
    "a variety" singular plural verb - Google Search


    The "bees" which have been pestering me finally are gone. Thank you.

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