[Grammar] mobile phones ... which bother or bothers me

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ansonguy

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Every week, my non-native English speaking friends meet and learn English from one another. In our last meeting, we talked about noun-verb agreement. We struggled to figure out the verb form in the sentence below, which I made up by myself.

(ex) Whenever I read in the library, some people's mobile phones ring, which really bother or bothers me.

We came up with different ways of expressing the idea. I am sure native English speakers can make this one sound better. However, among the versions we made up, this was the one that gave us trouble about noun-verb agreement.

Some of us chose "bother" because we thought it's the phones that bother me. Those who disagreed argued that you have to use "bothers" because it's the ringing that bothers me.

If you analyze this particular version, which verb form is correct? Thank you very much for your help.
 
J

J&K Tutoring

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Whenever I read in the library, some people's mobile phones ring, which really bother or bothers me.

Sorry, you lose! If we re-order the sentence, maybe it will be easier for you (and your friends) to understand.

Let's put the subject first: Some people's mobile phones ring whenever I read in the library, which really bother or bothers me. What bothers you? The ringing of the phones not the phones themselves (phones are harmless until they ring). 'The ringing of the phones' is a noun phrase, and it's third person uncountable (treated as singular), so we need to add an 's' to the verb: Ringing bothers me.
 
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