where the writers are
"A variety are" but "the variety is"?

From dictionary.com:

Usage note ... As a collective noun, variety, when preceded by a, is often treated as a plural: A variety of inexpensive goods are sold here. When preceded by the, it is usually treated as a singular: The variety of products is small.

 (From my "Words I'm Looking Up" series at my main blog, www.ConjugateVisits.blogspot.com.)

8 Comment count
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Is You Is, Or Is You Ain't?

Is a plural plural or singular?

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You is ...

You is referring to the word "plural"? What a great question. "Plural" is a singular, which I never realized before. If on the other hand, you is just having fun, you is definitely on to something.

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Cool rule!  Thanks!

This reminds me of the general rule.  Isn't the plural/singular determination still highly dependent on the subject you're referring to and not particularly the article?  For example:

> 50 percent of his cars are gas guzzlers

> 50 percent of his car time is spent changing radio stations

What do you think?

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Yeah, that article thing is rare. That's why I thought it was blogworthy.

The example you gave is excellent. Indeed, "cars" is plural while "time" is a mass noun, which takes the singular. It seems to me that, more often than not, the prepositional phrase does NOT determine the verb agreement. It more often seems to just modify (thus point to) the real subject. But yours is a great example of the latter.

And writer/speaker intent is a factor, too. For example, stye guides and other language reference books now allow "media" to be a singular when it's intended as a sort of collective.

The media is / the media are = both correct, depending on meaning.

Thanks for those great examples. 

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In an earlier post,

Thomas Huynh wrote about the difficulty of learning Vietnamese, but Engish is extremely difficult for Asians. The grammar--femine/masculine, singular, plural--is mind-boggling.

I must look at English through my Chinese mind, because even if I speak it without an accent, I never feel it's entirely natural to me (and yet it is). Then again, Chinese is not a language that comes fluidly, so I end up a stranger to both.

And I want that cat in your author photo.


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An Envious Dr. Seuss

"And I want that cat in your author photo."

Her cat and your hat.

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: )

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Yeah, it's a brutal language. I can't compare it with Vietnamese or Chinese, but I have studied bits of French, Spanish, Arabic and Italian and, of the bunch, English definitely seems to throw learners the most curve balls. Of course, my knowlege of those other languages is extremely limited, so I can't really put it in perspective. But I know that English's roots are super messy.

So on behalf of all of us who perpetuate the brutal pronunciations of "through" and "though" -- I'm sorry!

: )

P.S. I'll consider bids for Maddie, but in full disclosure I should tell you that she's obsessed with eating lizards even though she most certainly cannot digest them! Still, here she is as a baby:

As you can see, my insistence as I strolled through the animal shelter that "I'm just looking, not adopting," didn't stand a chance.