1. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Grammar Is or are?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Tenderiser, Feb 21, 2017.

    Which should it be?

    Their profits come from tourists, and the last thing they need is rumours of a fatal disease putting off visitors.

    Their profits come from tourists, and the last thing they need are rumours of a fatal disease putting off visitors.


    I wrote is, and a beta reader has changed it to are, and I'm second-guessing myself.
     
  2. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributor Contributor

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    This is similar to the "The team is/are focussed..."discussion on the US/UK dictionary thread, except that here your beta seems to be trying to agree the verb (is/are) to their profits, or tourists, or they, or rumours, or visitors, rather than the last thing, which is the subject of the clause involved (the last thing they need is rumours...).

    However, how many rumours are involved here? If there's just one rumour, that everybody is repeating, why not just call it one rumour? It may look more comfortable as...Their profits come from tourists, and the last thing they need is a rumour of a fatal disease putting off visitors.
     
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  3. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Is.

    There's one last thing, so... "is".

    But I agree with @Shadowfax that "rumours" being plural may be more than one last thing... "The last things they need" sound weird, though.
     
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  4. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributor Contributor

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    The last thing I need is hundreds of people agreeing with me...

    The last thing remains singular, even though I'm immediately saying that it comprises hundreds of people; my suggestion was to fix the perception in the eye of the reader - even if that beta was the only one.
     
  5. DueNorth

    DueNorth Senior Member

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    Agree--when in doubt, fix the awkward sententence rather than insisting on "being right" at the cost of it appearing incorrect to others.
     
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  6. Sack-a-Doo!

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributor Contributor

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    This is correct. The subject noun is 'thing.'

    'Profits,' the word your beta seems to be referring to, is in another phrase entirely and it's on the wrong side of the 'and.' 'Come' is the verb 'profits' is working with.
     
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  7. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Unless the person thinking it's wrong is just clueless... if we run to fix everything that someone somewhere doesn't get, we'll never finish a damn project!
     
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  8. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    'A rumour' doesn't sound right to me, probably because of the context which can't be gleaned from one sentence. :D

    I'm going to leave it for now. If other betas have an issue I'll try to reword.

    Thanks all!
     
  9. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    Agree, the subject is thing, sing. so "is" is correct. Conflicts with pl. rumo(u)rs so I would make that singular.
     
  10. thirdwind

    thirdwind Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Yup, I would go with "is" as well (just in case you needed more input ;)).
     
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  11. Storysmith

    Storysmith Active Member

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    I agree with "is", but if you want to keep rumours plural while removing the perception of it being wrong, how about:

    Their profits come from tourists, and the last thing they need is to have rumours of a fatal disease putting off visitors.

    or

    Their profits come from tourists, and the last thing they need is having rumours of a fatal disease putting off visitors.

    The rumours are now clearly "had", so nobody should think that "is" needs to match rumours.
     
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