1. Rumwriter

    Rumwriter Active Member

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    "Abundance": sing. or plur?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Rumwriter, Feb 5, 2017.

    "An abundance of creams, lotions, and scrubs are arranged..."

    or

    "An abundance of creams, lotions, and scrubs is arranged..."

    The "an" makes it singular, but the the "is" sounds funny to me. Anyone want to weigh in?
     
  2. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Technically structured like this it's singular , because the subject is the abundance, not the creams etc - however it sounds funny because the creams, lotions etc are plural.

    I'd say restructure the sentence to remove this dichotomy

    "multiple creams, lotions and scrubs are arranged"
     
  3. Michael Pless

    Michael Pless Senior Member

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    I'm sure the Cambridge Australian English Style Guide would say that either option is viable - I haven't checked in detail, but when using a similar sentence structure requiring a pronoun, Pam Peters offers:

    "Each member of the group must be prepared to bring in samples of their work..."

    But for me selection of one is dependent on the entire sentence and I'd go with the verb that reads more smoothly. Try each, reading it aloud or better still, getting your machine to read it back to you.

    My concern is for the use of the term "abundance" because although it refers to a large quantity of cosmetics in this instance, I'm not getting a clear enough idea of that quantity (although it may well be delivered in the latter half of the sentence). I'd put what I think is the supporting structure first: "The counter-top/dressing-table/shelf/etc held/supported a miniature forest of creams, lotions, and scrubs...", or similar if it's a medicine cabinet - so full the bottles clinked together when the door was closed.
     
  4. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Is.
     
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  5. Francis de Aguilar

    Francis de Aguilar Contributor Contributor

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    Why not "An abundance of creams, lotions, and scrubs arranged..." ?
     
  6. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Singular.

    "...is arranged."
     
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  7. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Yep.

    "An abundance [of creams, lotions, and scrubs] is arranged...

    The plurality of the items after the preposition is of no consequence to the verb agreement because the prepositional phrase is subordinate. Only the logical number of abundance (singular) matters.
     
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  8. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributor Contributor

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    My English teacher was very specific..."Each member of the group must be prepared to bring in samples of his or her work". Although I suspect he'd have suggested that there was only a need to bring in a sample...

    To the OP, yes, An abundance is singular. An abundance are not plural.
     
  9. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Also, not to be ridiculously pedantic (which of course means that I am going to be), but that "an" doesn't make the word abundance singular. The word is intrinsically singular; thus, if an article is to be used in connection with it, the article must match in number.
     
  10. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I suppose you could have a plural abundances - as in " every year there is an abundance of fluffwiffles, these abundances..."
     
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  11. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Mmmm.... I would only use that form if the abundances in question were distinct and severable.

    Every year there is an abundance of fluffwiffles, pollymoodles, and marmapops. These abundances make up the agricultural backbone of Sneetchland. Occasionally the abundance of one of the crops is lacking and the Sneetches of Sneetchland make up for this in the sale of tiddlypips, but only as a last resort.

    Even then, though, the plural feels redundant.
     
  12. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    An abundance is... Singular

    A second sentence need not follow the same rule, bujt "abundance: would be strange, at best, to use in a plural sence.

    These skin treatments are arranged... Plural because of the word choice and usage, even though we are discussing the same collection. The concept may be both singular and plural in slightly altered context, even though that context is solely due to the phrasing.

    The "ear test" is unreliable, because you may have heard more incorrect than correct usage.
     
  13. Rumwriter

    Rumwriter Active Member

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    Actually, I think I figured out what bugged me the most about this:

    I agree that abundance is singular. The problem is the use of "arrangement" with it. Arranging requires plurality. I don't believe a singular anything can be arranged. That would simply be existing.
     
  14. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I disagree. Try Googling the phrase "collection is arranged". Many hits, many from sites that one would expect to use correct grammar.
     

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