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    • Join Date: Apr 2009
    • Posts: 1

    Collective Nouns

    I run an online text game and there's been a heated debate regarding composite nouns that I hope you guys can help us resolve. The sentence in question:

    A multitude of tiny cut gemstones is/are set into each of the black jade bases that are shaped like butterfly wings.

    The "is" camp believes in this case that it is a clear subject-verb agreement issue. The "are" camp believes this is wrong and points to Language Log: There's a bunch of reasons -- or are there? for authority.

    Thanks in advance!

  1. RonBee's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Feb 2003
    • Posts: 16,551

    Re: Collective Nouns

    You wouldn't say "Many is" would you?

    • Join Date: Nov 2007
    • Posts: 5,409

    Re: Collective Nouns

    The 'language log' seems to be sampling what people say. I wonder if any speeches by Bush were included, like: “Rarely is the question asked, is our children learning?" Note from your own experience that one of your camps is/are wrong. How many of the camp in error have blogged somewhere and were therefore also sampled. Is it a case, then, of the majority rules?? Bad grammar is!

    A number of...
    A large number of...
    A small number of...
    A bunch of...
    A multitude of...
    PLURAL verb


    The number of children born to unwed parents is falling. - singular verb.

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