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Autor:  Tradutor de Plantão
E-mail:  tradutordeplantao@gmail.com
Data:  19/NOV/2011 4:19 PM
Assunto:  Subject-Verb Agreement

In regard to a previous message posted two days ago, Gus asked about the subject-verb agreement in the following sentence:


Just like any other marriage, one key to keeping the relationships vibrant are regular date nights.


To which Dale responded that it was “in the reverse order of a normal sentence in English” and that the subject was “regular date nights,” therefore requiring are. To me, though, that didn’t sound very clear-cut, and I hope he would provide us with his valuable insights once again so as to clarify a few points:


- How does one decide what the subject of such a sentence is?
- As shown in the examples below it is quite clear that the use of a singular linking verb (be, seem, like, etc) after a singular construction is pretty much standard in current English usage. So my question is what constitutes a “normal sentence,” then?



1. …the source of more than half the smog is cars and trucks. (USAToday)

2. …the idea of breaking apart the core coalition which is women and blacks and other minorities… (Fox)

3. The biggest issue in this election is jobs and economic security.(—Howard Dean, former governor of New Hampshire and former presidential candidate)

4. FLDC's extension audience is the men and women of the armed services and their families… (Human Ecology)

5. One key to all this is the so-called military transition teams. (ABC Nightline)

6. The problem is these hordes of Asian people. (CBS)

7. The main difference is the parents. (Atlanta Journal Constitution)

8. Another source to this effect is the many different autopsies which have been… (Total Health)

9. And one of the things that’s been very heartening is the many expressions of enthusiasm… (PBS)

10. …there's three great motives for people coming to the United States. The first is jobs and work… (NPR)



In addition to the sentences above, consider:


1. My specialty is cars. (NPR)

2. …Jean's specialty is learning disabilities. (Newsweek)

3. Janzen's specialty is caterpillars… (Smithsonian)


Are those sentences wrong? How about these:


1. Cancer patients and amputees are his specialty (Denver Post)

2. …the anecdotes that are her specialty (New Yorker)

3. Spiders were his specialty (Christian Science Monitor)


Who knows? Perhaps we should just assume that the subject is whatever is on the left and go with the flow.


Here’s how one blog neatly summarizes this topic:




I hope this will add a positive feedback to the discussion and enrich everybody’s knowledge.



Tradutor de Plantão



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Índice de mensagens

 English Made in Brazil -- English, Portuguese, & contrastive linguistics
 Subject-Verb Agreement  –  Tradutor de Plantão  19/NOV/2011, 4:19 PM
Subject-Verb Agreement  –  Dale-USA  20/NOV/2011, 5:39 PM

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