GrammarPhile Blog

Miscellaneous Items...

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Jan 23, 2013 5:30:00 AM

Here's a small collection of miscellaneous rules for grammar. Perhaps one will be something you can use in the next ten minutes.

The expression the number has a singular meaning and requires a singular verb; a number has a plural meaning and requires a plural verb.

    • The number of lakes we can ski on has increased with the coming of warmer weather.
    • A number of lakes are still frozen even though it is May.
      When a phrase or clause serves as the subject, the verb should be singular.
    • Practicing for the tournament takes all my time these days.
    • Whether the decision was right or not is no longer important.
    • That they will even show up is far from certain.
    • Whomever you support is likely to be elected.

Exception: Clauses beginning with what may be singular or plural, according to the meaning:

    • What we need is a new statement of policy. [The what clause refers to the statement; hence the verb is singular.]
    • What we need are some guidelines on eligibility. [Here the what clause refers to guidelines; hence the verb is plural.]
      Do not use an adverb to express a meaning already contained in the verb.
    • assemble (not assemble together)
    • begin (not first begin)
    • cancel (not cancel out)
    • convert (not convert over)
    • cooperate (not cooperate together)
    • refer (not refer back)
    • follow (not follow after)
    • repeat (not repeat again)

Topics: grammar, verbs

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