- 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.”
Thanks for visiting. While you’re here, please look around the site. You can subscribe via e-mail or RSS feed. The tools to do so are at the top of the right-hand column. To share or retweet the entry, use the buttons below. You can follow me on Twitter: @peterfaur.