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The Old IS or ARE

I went to English exam today. One of the problem was very difficult for me. The problem is

Which is correct? 1) The old IS respected in our society. 2) The old ARE respected in our society.

I wrote #1 is correct . I wonder if I was right.

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(By the way, there was a similar mistake in your question. Here's more correct examples:
* One problem was very difficult for me.
* One of the problems was very difficult for me.
* Two of the problems were very difficult for me.)

mpt December 15, 2003, 12:37am

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Seems as though both are correct.

The old - as in anything that is old - can be respected.

Just like "The book is the most ancient form of entertainment..."

While awkward, it still works.

Alx December 27, 2003, 11:48am

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In the absence of any context, the question refers to old people. The answer is 'are'.

Referring to people learning the language you have already learned as 'dipshits' is unhelpful and makes you look unpleasant.

M Stevenson April 11, 2004, 2:26am

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besides, Ali forgot to place the comma after "dipshit."

speedwell2 April 12, 2004, 10:50am

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I believe "The old ARE respected in our society." is the correct answer. "The old" isindirectly referring to a group of things (I'm assuming old people), rather than one single thing.

ibe December 9, 2003, 10:44pm

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I'd say "The old are respected in our society." (Try switching "old" with "elderly," and it reads smoothly.)

However, if the context were talking about "old way" or "old customs" vs. "new ways" or "new customs," you could make a case for "The old is respected in our society."

T. Carter December 10, 2003, 4:05pm

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As ibe said, the key is to realize that "the old" is another way of saying "old people". "People" is plural, so you should use "are".

Other examples:
* The young today ARE so excitable.
* My eldest IS at school now.
* A mandarin and an orange taste similar. The latter IS bigger.
* Mandarins and oranges taste similar. The latter ARE bigger.

mpt December 13, 2003, 6:19am

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The old ARE respected in our society. It implies old people, not an old object.

Tarsh December 16, 2003, 10:16pm

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Substitue "the elderly" for "the old", and it becomes pretty obvious that the plural form - "are" is the more usual, although strictly speaking either is acceptable.

K. Robson January 3, 2004, 3:41pm

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That depends if it's talking about old people, or an old custom or practice of some sort. Like, the old way, or the old ideal, or the old fashion. The question is unclear.

fi January 4, 2004, 9:28pm

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'The old' must not be a term used singularly, as any one thing has many constitituent parts and therefore, anything relating to a vaguary should be phrased in plural form.

The possible exception is while 'the old' is a singular characteristic pertaining to all things, but with a very specific commencement, in a spiritually awakened observer-who may state 'the old is'...but with not even the semblence of finality of knowledge and enlightenment with which God could speak these words.

René January 5, 2004, 5:15am

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to answer your question, 'The old are...' is the correct form in the context given.

BoB January 5, 2004, 8:20am

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You dipshit ...

Lucy January 5, 2004, 2:12pm

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Shit sorry I assumed you were english. If you aren't then it's an easy mistake to make. English is a horrid language to learn

Lucy January 5, 2004, 2:14pm

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DIPSHIT I AM 13 YEARS OLD AND KNOW THAT U ARE WRONG!!!!!!!

ALI January 5, 2004, 4:44pm

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a truth and beauty pertianing to all things is indeed inherant. however, the irreverance of the question is in itself destructive to its appreciation

René January 7, 2004, 9:30am

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I have to agree with T. Carter...an argument can certainly be made either way.

Worse comes to worse, talk to your techer and see what can be done...maybe they will give you partial credit at least.

cpttactii January 13, 2004, 3:13pm

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Yes     No