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When is it Plural?

Ross at Play

I'm working on a post listing principles for when the plural form of a verb is needed to agree with its subject.
My basic reference is CMOS, and I can tell you, it is not a task which Sherlock Holmes would describe as "elementary". :(
The SOL editor is too basic to be practical for making revisions to a lengthy post, but I'll want to post some drafts here to see how they appear, which I'll then delete.
Please wait before adding your comments until after I've added a brief third post stating I've completed what will be, at best, a 'discussion document'.
It would be helpful if anyone could send me copies of, or links to, other references which provide advice on when verbs should be singular or plural. If you know of any, please email them to me at rossmurray.aust@gmail.com. (I am more likely to notice those arriving than anything sent via the SOL mail system.)

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Ross at Play

If CMOS is difficult to understand, maybe Grammar Girl will be easier.

http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/subject-verb-agreement

This is one grammar error I make often. For example, the following sentence sounds right to my ear:


The use of cell phones and pagers are prohibited.


But it's wrong. She says this is why:


The prepositional phrase "of cell phones and pagers" is in the way. The subject of that sentence is use, which is singular, so the verb should be is. And that is that.


This is her simple fix:

Simply find your subject and circle just the word (or words) that form the subject—and ignore everything else. Then, underline the verb and check if subject and verb match

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
richardshagrin
Updated:

I doubt "it" is ever plural. On the same principal of "Railroad Crossing, Look out for the cars, how do you spell it without any Rs", I T. You are spelling it, not the railroad crossing phrase. He, She, and It are singular, Them are plural.

Perhaps the question should be "When are verbs plural?" Or "when is a verb plural?" Verb is singular, verbs are plural.

Switch Blayde

@richardshagrin

Verb is singular, verbs are plural.


Actually, it's "verbs is plural."

robberhands

@Switch Blayde

Actually, it's "verbs is plural."

I hate that you're right, it sounds so silly.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

@richardshagrin
Verb is singular, verbs are plural.
@Switch Blayde
Actually, it's "verbs is plural."
@richardshagrin
I hate that you're right, it sounds so silly.

You're BOTH WRONG!

'Verb' is singular; 'verbs' is plural.
or
Verb is singular; verbs is plural.

robberhands

@Ross at Play

@richardshagrin
I hate that you're right, it sounds so silly.

So are you, just not in caps and bold.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@robberhands

So are you, just not in caps and bold.

I cannot see me restraining myself from using things like caps and bold.

I interpret "So are you" as suggesting you think I am wrong too.
My point is that "verbs" has a quite different meaning to " 'verbs' or verbs".
I would certainly say, "Verbs are singular or plural depending on their usage."
I cannot see the point you're trying to make.

Replies:   robberhands
awnlee jawking

@robberhands

I had to stop and think but you're right.

It sounds okay in context IMO.

AJ

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Ross at Play

I interpret "So are you" as suggesting you think I am wrong too.

I quoted your mistake.

I cannot see me restraining myself from using things like caps and bold.

I didn't say you have to. Personally, I think the way you used it shows bad style; it seems unnecessarily loud and aggressive.

Replies:   Ross at Play
robberhands

@awnlee jawking

It sounds okay in context IMO.

I guess it's my heritage again, in German it sounds silly, and MS Spellcheck agrees, it sounds somehow wrong.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play

@robberhands

it seems unnecessarily loud and aggressive.

I agree. I am often guilty of that.

richardshagrin

Verb Verbiage. Reverberations.

It appears the consensus is "verbs is". I still think "verbs are" sounds better. If we consider "word is" versus "words are" does anyone want to reconsider?

I S stands for Information Science, I T stands for Information Technology. I suspect practitioners of the latter are better paid.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@richardshagrin


"verbs is". I still think "verbs are" sounds better.


So that you're not misled, "Verbs are in present, past, and future tense." So when "verbs" is used as part of the sentence, it's definitely plural. You're talking about more than one verb (plural).

But the example wasn't using "verbs" in a sentence. It was referencing "verbs" in a sentence, saying whether it was singular or plural, not using it as plural.

So

"Verbs" is plural while "verb" is singular.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

This is one grammar error I make often. For example, the following sentence sounds right to my ear:

The use of cell phones and pagers are prohibited.

But it's wrong.

Odd. I'd immediately have used "is", though I couldn't for the life of me tell you why without studying it for some time.

Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

Perhaps the question should be "When are verbs plural?" Or "when is a verb plural?" Verb is singular, verbs are plural.

Yet shineolla covers everything! 'D

Crumbly Writer

@robberhands

Actually, it's "verbs is plural."

I hate that you're right, it sounds so silly.

Verbs is plural. Those verbs are plural! Again, it's the subject, not the verb form.

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

You're BOTH WRONG!

'Verb' is singular; 'verbs' is plural.
or
Verb is singular; verbs is plural.

Wrong. You're conflating the verb form (more than one) with the subject (the single word). That's why it often takes multiple passes to figure these out, and why circling the verb is the best way of determining the answer.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Crumbly Writer

@robberhands

I guess it's my heritage again, in German it sounds silly, and MS Spellcheck agrees, it sounds somehow wrong.

Spellcheck notoriously has a difficult time selecting the appropriate subject. It doesn't know to circle the correct subject first.

robberhands

@Crumbly Writer

Spellcheck notoriously has a difficult time selecting the appropriate subject. It doesn't know to circle the correct subject first.

There are times when your wisdom simply baffles me.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

It doesn't know to circle the correct subject first.


In the western Indian attacks most spell checkers want to circle the Indians and not the wagons.

Crumbly Writer

@robberhands

There are times when your wisdom simply baffles me.

It baffles everyone else—including me, too! 'D

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer


@Ross at Play
You're BOTH WRONG!
'Verb' is singular; 'verbs' is plural.
or
Verb is singular; verbs is plural.

You:
Wrong. You're conflating the verb form (more than one) with the subject (the single word). That's why it often takes multiple passes to figure these out, and why circling the verb is the best way of determining the answer.

You have misquoted me by not copying the italics I used in my post.
With a correctly quoted history, my post meant this:

Both of these originals are wrong:
Verb is singular, verbs are plural.
Verb is singular, verbs is plural.
Either of these is okay:
'Verb' is singular; 'verbs' is plural.
Verb is singular; verbs is plural.

My point was it does not make sense to state the words 'verb' or 'verbs' - when being used as common nouns with their usual meanings - could be always singular or plural.
You need something to indicate you are discussing whether the words themselves are singular or plural. The most common way to achieve that is to use single quotes or italic font, but double quotes are also okay.
Once you have identified the subject of your sentence is a word, not the idea expressed by that word, it is possible to state that word, when it is a noun, is either singular or plural.
Within a sentence with a subject that is a solitary word, being used as a word, it is singular, so a singular verb, in these sentences 'is', is then needed.

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