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Thread: Count or non-count? Most of the people is/are

  1. #1
    Ankylosaurus Forum Admin Erin's Avatar
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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful. Good post? Yes | No
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    One of the most common questions is something like this:

    Do I say:

    "Most of the people is/are...?"

    "Most of the water is/are...?"


    Here's the rule:

    quantifier + of + NOUN + verb

    The NOUN determines whether the verb is singular or plural.

    For example:

    Most of the people is/are...

    because the quantifier "most" refers to "people," (a plural noun) so "most" is plural in this sentence.

    Most of the water is/are...

    because the quantifier "most" refers to "water," (a non-count noun) so "most" is plural in this sentence.

    So, from these examples, you should notice that we are looking mainly at whether the object of the preposition is count or non-count because the quantifier will take on this property from the object of the preposition.

    In other words, in these sentences:

    Most of the people are...

    "Most" becomes a count noun because "people" is a count noun.

    Most of the water is...

    "Most" becomes a non-count noun because "water" is a non-count noun.

    So, this rule tells us only whether the quantifier is count or non-count.

    To figure out whether the quantifier is singular or plural, we need to check one more thing...



    Sometimes, a quantifier refers only to one thing, not many things. For example, each, every, and one always refer to one thing, but 10%, half, all, and most would refer to more than one thing if the object of the preposition is count (with one possible exception that I will show you in a second).

    Of course, if the quantifier is always singular, then the verb must always be singular, too. (Let's not forget our common sense in grammar, okay?? ) For example, we say:
    • One of the people is...
    • Each of the students is...
    Of course, when I first wrote out these rules, I imagined a situation like this:

    • 1% of the 100 people is/are...
    because, of course, 1% of 100 is one, and that's singular, right? And there's invariably some student in my class who will try to find an exception (that's what I do in class, too. My teachers hated it. )

    Anyway, I think most people would say that this is simply a bad sentence and should be rewritten. This sentence I've shown you is more of a grammar puzzle than a real sentence.

    But I know that somebody out there will want to know the "answer." Well, you can't go wrong if you write it in the singular, can you?

    See this topic for a list of quantifiers: List of quantifers
    Last edited by Erin; 10-04-2011 at 06:28 PM. Reason: Made it pretty.
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    Good post? Yes | No
    This rule doesn't apply to singular quantifiers... correct?

    e.g. One of the cars was sold.


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    Ankylosaurus Forum Admin Erin's Avatar
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    Good post? Yes | No
    Yes, of course. I have added a bit more information to cover the question you've asked.

    Erin
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    Sorry, Erin but I'm still having some problems with quantifiers.

    Kaplan said these are correct:

    A scant of news reports has shown ......


    A series of UFO sightings has created a .....


    I assumed these were plural. Are these sentences correct?

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    Ankylosaurus Forum Admin Erin's Avatar
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    Good post? Yes | No
    Originally posted by jeffq


    Sorry, Erin but I'm still having some problems with quantifiers.

    Kaplan said these are correct:

    A scant of news reports has shown ......


    A series of UFO sightings has created a .....


    I assumed these were plural. Are these sentences correct?
    If we're using nouns that refer to groups, then we simply look at the noun to figure it out. So yes, these are singular (although I would never say "a scant of" anything!)

    The big exception to this one is a number of people are..., which is plural.

    Anyway, if you're still confused, I can add some info here, just let me know.
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    The big exception to this one is a number of people are..., which is plural.
    I'm concluding:
    "a number of ..." always takes plural verbs.
    "the number of ..." always takes singular verbs.

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    Most of the people is/are...

    because the quantifier "most" refers to "people," (a plural noun) so "most" is plural in this sentence.

    Most of the water is/are...

    because the quantifier "most" refers to "water," (a non-count noun) so "most" is plural in this sentence.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    You are saying "most" is plural in the above sentence?
    But the verb we are using for the corresponding example is singular
    i.e. Most of the water is/are...
    I am confused, shouldn't "most" in this case be "singular"?
    -----------------------------------------------------------------

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    Ankylosaurus Forum Admin Erin's Avatar
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    Good post? Yes | No
    Originally posted by uk

    Most of the people is/are...

    because the quantifier "most" refers to "people," (a plural noun) so "most" is plural in this sentence.

    Most of the water is/are...

    because the quantifier "most" refers to "water," (a non-count noun) so "most" is plural in this sentence.
    This part is correct. Great, in fact!

    Originally posted by uk


    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    You are saying "most" is plural in the above sentence?
    But the verb we are using for the corresponding example is singular
    i.e. Most of the water is/are...
    I am confused, shouldn't "most" in this case be "singular"?
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    Not sure what you're asking here... ?
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    Hello Erin,

    Could you confirm if I've understood your explanations right?

    The following sentence is from the TOEFL grammer section:
    An amazing variety of animals, by means of elaborate adaptators, are able to thrive in conditions of extreme head and dryness.

    As far I as anderstand "A variety" should be followed with the singular verb "is" instead of "are", or it behaves like "a number of"?

    Here is the original discussion:
    http://www.TestMagic.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=5764

    Thank you.





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    Here's the rule:

    quantifier + of + NOUN + verb

    The NOUN determines whether the verb is singular or plural.

    For example:

    Most of the people is/are...

    because the quantifier "most" refers to "people," (a plural noun) so "most" is plural in this sentence.

    Most of the water is/are...

    because the quantifier "most" refers to "water," (a non-count noun) so "most" is plural in this sentence.

    So, from these examples, you should notice that we are looking mainly at whether the object of the preposition is count or non-count because the quantifier will take on this property from the object of the preposition.

    In other words, in these sentences:

    Most of the people are...

    "Most" becomes a count noun because "people" is a count noun.

    Most of the water is...

    "Most" becomes a non-count noun because "water" is a non-count noun.

    So, this rule tells us only whether the quantifier is count or non-count.

    To figure out whether the quantifier is singular or plural, we need to check one more thing...



    What is the "one more thing"?

    Please confirm my thoughts.

    "because the quantifier "most" refers to "water," (a non-count noun) so "most" is plural in this sentence."
    Is this correct?

    I thought this was correct, but I may be wrong...
    "because the quantifier "most" refers to "water," (a non-count noun) so "most" is singular in this sentence."

    Please confirm my thoughts.....

    if the modifier is a (noncount noun) then the verb should be singular
    and
    if the modifier is a (count noun) then the verb should be plural

    UNLESS, the modifier refers only to one thing, such as each, every, and one.

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