Grammar Friday

man_question_markToday’s grammar tips:

  • To know whether you need a singular or a plural verb, you need to identify the subject of the sentence. You would say, “My pair of scissors is lost,” because “pair” is a singular noun (even though it means two of something). On the other hand, you would say, “My scissors are lost,” because “scissors” is a plural noun.
  • Some subjects look plural, but we think of them as almost one word, so we give them a singular verb. This is correct: “Macaroni and cheese is Emily’s favorite dish.”
  • What about this sentence? “The only problem we 500 campers have are the hundreds of wasps swarming around our 10 campsites.” There are many plural nouns (campers, hundreds, wasps, campsites), but none of these is the subject. The subject is “problem,” which we know is singular because it is the only problem. So the sentence should read: “The only problem we 500 campers have is the hundreds of wasps swarming around our 10 campuses.”

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