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  1. The Nightingale
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    The Nightingale New Member

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    Questions about subject-verb agreement!

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by The Nightingale, Nov 15, 2010.

    I have some queries related to grammar and punctuation which have been bothering me for quite some time. Most of them are to do with subject-verb agreement, which I tend to find confusing. I’ve used some examples from work/letters and some which I have made up on the spot. Any help would be really appreciated!

    #1 Firstly, compound subjects are so confusing to me! I understand that subjects such as bacon and eggs, Marks and Spencer (the shop) etc. count as compound subjects and both are singular and have singular verbs, but what about sentences such as these?

    Your ethos and emphasis on learning truly reflect/reflects my own thoughts on the matter and is/are something I look for in any good educational institution.

    The life experience and knowledge that I have gathered via other means is/are the ideal foundation for further education.

    With these two sentences, I originally thought a singular verb was appropriate (is), but having looked at them more closely, it seems like both the sentences work in the same way that "Mary and John are good friends" would work. The subjects are connected by and, yet they don't stand alone as a singular subject in the way that bacon and eggs do. Therefore they both require a plural verb (are), am I correct? I highlighted reflect/reflects because I'm not sure which is approrpiate and why.

    #2

    Since people and experiences are the greatest source of knowledge there is…

    Again, I'm thinking that the subject people and experiences requires the plural. But when we come to greatest source of knowledge, that is singular (and so is the verb I've given it.) However, I want to know if it's OK to have both a singular and plural subject and a singular and plural verb in the same sentence. I suspect it is, but I just wanted to check.

    #3 Emphasis on community and student support is something that I, as a student, would/will find invaluable.

    Again, here I chose "would" - becomes I'm expressing something which I hope will happen in the future. Is this right?

    #4 Your ethos which states that “every individual has a unique and valuable contribution to make” is something that stood/stands out to me.

    Again, this one has left me confused. I'm not sure which one is correct or why. Both sound OK to me.

    #5 I left (somewhere) realising or I left having realised?

    #6 Is it OK to switch tenses as long as you don't do it within the same sentence? Thus:

    For the majority of last year she was unable to comitt to a study course due to the nature of her illness (past.)

    Then:

    She continues to be under investigation (present.)

    #7 Is the following sentence valid: My interests include theatre, arts and culture. It doesn't contain a verb, so I assume it is incorrect?

    #8 If you're using commas as an aside, is it ok to separate the subject from its verb. The film, with its spectacular effects and rich colours, was brilliant.

    # 9 - Final question! If you've listed an number of things and then begin the next sentence with, "All of which," should it be "all of which has served me" or "all of which have served me"?

    Any answers would be very much appreciated.
     
  2. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    Grammar is not actually one of my strong points. I just write well without much awareness to the concepts of grammar, so if anyone see any mistakes, feel free to correct me and do better. ^^;

    Your ethos and emphasis on learning truly reflect my own thoughts on the matter and is/are something I look for in any good educational institution.

    The life experience and knowledge that I have gathered via other means are the ideal foundation for further education.


    You are correct because ethos and emphasis and experience and knowledge are distinct subjects that can stand alone in their own sentence. They each refer to one thing, so if you use more than one, your verb has to be plural.

    Do not let yourself be fooled by the conjunction. You just have to figure out if the subject refers to one thing or more than one from the context. You know saying Marks and Spencer is a shop is correct in this sentence because even though you have a conjunction joining two things, they form the name of one company.

    Bacon and eggs is my favorite dish.
    Here, you refer to "bacon and eggs" as just one thing: a dish.

    Bacon and eggs are my favorite foods.
    Here, you are saying bacon is one of your favorite foods, and eggs is the other.

    As long as your linking verbs are not linked to the same subjects, you are fine.

    In your example, "are" links people and experiences to the greatest source of knowledge. You use "are" because you have more than one subject.

    On the other hand, "is" links there to whatever "there" just happens to be. "There" is singular in this case so you use "is".

    It is simply not a good idea to use a linking verb at the end of a sentence because it weakens the sentence.


    "Would" is the past tense of "will". It has many uses, but I believe I know which one goes here. "Would", in this case, is used to express the future in a past sentence. Since your sentence is in present tense, I believe using "will" is correct.

    This depends on if you are saying that you just noticed the ethos, or if you already noticed. If you just noticed it, then using "stands" is correct because you are talking about something that is occurring. If you had already noticed the ethos, then you have to use "stood" because you are talking about something that has already happened.

    The difference is the tense. "Realising" is present tense. The way it is used in the first example indicates that you just realised something.

    "Having realised" is the present perfect tense (combining "have" with a past participle). The present perfect tense is used to indicate an action that has happened some time before the present, but the exact time is unknown. Therefore, your second example indicates that you have already realised something, but the time is not specific.

    It is fine as long as it is logical.

    Last year, he was the smartest kid. This year, he is the second smartest.


    Actually, "include" is your verb.

    It is fine. People use a set of commas to wrap up their prepositional phrases all the time. You can actually put that phrase anywhere in your example sentence except after "the".

    "All" is singular so you would use has.
     
  3. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Because compound subjects tend to be things connected together a lot more closely - ties that any one will understand. I mean, like the kind of things you'd say quickly and run together because together they are the whole of the name. "ethos and emphasis" isn't a thing - they are two different subjects, and the only reason they're connected by an and and look like a compound one is because you don't have any other words in the mix with them - but you could have a list of twelve there and the grammar wouldn't change. Though it'd be pretty hard to say. :p
     
  4. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with your later thinking: they require plural verbs. Once you've decided they're plural, "reflect" rather than "reflects" follows naturally.
    I don't think you can have it both ways. They are the greatest sources of knowledge.
    Yes, that's right, although you could choose "will" if you want to sound more certain that it will happen. Philosophically it's suspect but grammatically it's ok and (in a job interview, for example) it might be politically expedient. Well done for making "is" correctly agree with "emphasis", by the way -- that's an issue that confuses a lot of people.
    Both are grammatically fine, the issue is whether you want to emphasise you reaction at the time of reading or your present feelings.
    Both are grammatically fine (although I'd put a comma after "left" in each case, but that might be because I'm British, old-fashioned or both). The difference is whether you realised as you were leaving or before you started leaving.
    Yes. Stylistically it helps a lot that the sequence is a natural time sequence, from past to present, and you could comfortably move on to the future: "We will continue to monitor the situation." If you put them in a different order it would be grammatically ok but horribly ugly.
    "Include" is a verb.
    I don't see why not.
    "Have", but consider carefully whether it should really be a new sentence. In a speech, fine. In prose, maybe not.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    Your ethos and emphasis on learning truly reflect my own thoughts on the matter and are things I look for in any good educational institution.

    The life experience and knowledge that I have gathered via other means are the ideal foundation for further education.

    ...yes...

    ...since it refers to more than one thing, it has to be the plural form... note that 'something' also has to be made plural...
    ...'source' is singular and that's what 'is' refers to, not the plural 'make-up' of the source...

    ...depends on how positive you want to be... i'd use 'will' to give the impression that i intend to do so, am assuming i will be a student... using a conditional is less optimistic, less 'committed' to the desired end result of your app essay, or whatever this is...

    it's a statement, which is thus a singular item and takes the singular verb...

    ...either one is ok, depending on the context and time frame of what goes before and after this...

    ...it's ok only if the whole piece is being done in present... and 'commit' has 2 'm's and only 1 't'...

    ...no, it's not incorrect... 'include' is the verb...

    ...yes, that's the correct way to punctuate such modifying prepositional phrases...

    ...'have' if referring specifically to the previous list of items...

    hope this helps... love and hugs, maia
     
  6. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    So what was wrong with my example, which then moved into the future?
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    where did i say anything was wrong with it?... but it's a bit iffy as 'future' tense anyway, imo, since 'will continue' means they are doing so now and will keep on doing so...

    and in any case, what i said applies to that, as well... it will only work if the rest of the piece is written in present tense...
     
  8. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Because you said that the rest had to be in the present, whereas I'd given an example in which it wasn't all in the present.
    It could equally well have been "We will review the situation this time next year."

    I think that what matters isn't that the rest is present tense, what matters is that there is a clear chronological progression from past to present to future. Anything after the future tense example I gave should be even further in the future: "If the situation is not resolved within three years we will refer the matter to a higher authority."

    I think it's also important that this is a stylistic issue, not a grammatical one. If one re-ordered the sentences they would still be grammatical, but would be confusing.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i was referring the the whole piece being written in present tense overall... that doesn't mean that there can't be bits of past or future used where appropriate, since no matter which tense you choose to write in, there will often be places where other tenses need to be used... but that does not change the fact that the work is being written in past/present...
     

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