Expressions of Quantity: Special Cases of Subject-Verb Agreement
As a copy editor, it is important to understand the rules of subject-verb agreement, especially when it comes to expressions of quantity. These special cases can be tricky to navigate, but with some knowledge and practice, you can ensure that your writing is clear, concise, and grammatically correct.
Expressions of quantity are words or phrases that indicate an amount or number of something. Some common examples include “many,” “few,” “several,” “a lot,” and “some.” When these expressions are used as the subject of a sentence, they can create confusion when it comes to matching the verb to the subject.
For example, consider the sentence “Many of the students in the class is/are struggling with the material.” The correct form of the verb in this sentence is “are,” because “many” is a plural expression of quantity. The subject of the sentence is “many of the students,” which is plural, so the verb must also be plural.
However, there are some special cases where an expression of quantity may be singular, even though it may seem like it should be plural. These cases include situations where the expression refers to a singular object or where the expression is followed by a singular noun.
For example, consider the sentence “A lot of money was/were spent on the project.” The correct form of the verb in this sentence is “was,” because “a lot” is a singular expression of quantity. The object it refers to is “money,” which is singular, so the verb must also be singular.
Another example is the sentence “One of the books is/are missing.” The correct form of the verb in this sentence is “is,” because “one” is a singular expression of quantity. Even though “books” is plural, the subject of the sentence is “one,” which is singular.
It is also important to pay attention to the placement of the expression of quantity in the sentence. When the expression is placed before the verb, it is considered the subject of the sentence. However, when it is placed after the verb, it is considered an object and does not affect the subject-verb agreement.
For example, consider the sentence “The project spent a lot of money.” In this sentence, “a lot of money” is the object of the verb “spent,” so it does not affect the subject-verb agreement.
In conclusion, expressions of quantity can create special cases of subject-verb agreement that can be tricky to navigate. As a copy editor, it is important to understand these rules and to practice using them correctly to ensure that your writing is clear, concise, and grammatically correct. By paying attention to the number of the expression and its placement in the sentence, you can ensure that your writing is free of errors and communicates your message effectively.