Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

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24-Hour Proofreading Service—We proofread your Google Docs or Microsoft Word files. We hate grammatical errors with passion. Learn More

Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

Your Pain Is Our Pleasure

24-Hour Proofreading Service—We proofread your Google Docs or Microsoft Word files. We hate grammatical errors with passion. Learn More

Was it like that or Were you just joking?

Whilst happily typing away my math report, I came upon this slight roadblock...

“We observed a triangle created by the basketball pole and replicated a smaller triangle that was much more scaled down in size, but each of its sides WERE still in proportion to the larger triangle’s. ”

Please take note of the entirely capitalized “were” that *was* the reason I capitalized it in the first place:’) My absolutely horrible computer supported by its “state-of-the-art” spelling program argue that my “were” should be “was.” Of course, I personally don’t *trust* my computer as it takes some perverse pleasure in pointing out that i spelt “colour” wrong. So can i get backed by a professional opinion, please?

  • January 25, 2004
  • Posted by jenga
  • Filed in Grammar
  • 23 comments

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Comments

Going by strict usage rules, I think the computer may be right. "Each" is singular, so it should be paired with "was."
My natural instinct, however, would be to use "were" as well. It just sounds better, because it immediately follows "sides," which is plural.

carriegood1 Jan-25-2004

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Thanks! I'm just going with "were" simply on the base that i think it sounds better too. Besides, it's a *math* report! Who cares about grammar in a *math* report!

Jenga1 Jan-25-2004

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yeah, I believe the proper word would be "was" since "each" meaning "side" singular is the subject, "were" sounds right because the prepositional phrase "of the sides" ends with a plural word "sides" making you want to follow it with "were"

Aaron2 Jan-25-2004

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Try, "Each one of its sides was still in proportion." Think: "Each was." "Each side was still in proportion to the other sides." "Were" may sound better, but it is incorrect.

anonymous4 Jan-28-2004

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I'm just tossing in another vote for "was"!

Sarah_M. Jan-31-2004

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Yep - *was* is correct because of the noun-verb relationship. The "sides" is what misleads you.

BradleyB Feb-11-2004

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"Was" is technically correct. However, there's a conflicting school of thought on this type of question, which holds that good grammar should not call attention to itself. If "was" results in a construction that is correct but sounds strained or awkward, go with "were."

This seems like a borderline case to me. In other cases where the noun proximate to the verb is farther away from the root noun, the "inconspicuous" rule seems to make a stronger case.

Adam_Rice Feb-11-2004

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The "who cares about grammar in a math report" attitude is why everyone makes fun of engineers for being unable to express themselves clearly in writing.

WebTurtle Feb-28-2004

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Borderline shmorderline... :) This is a perfectly straighforward case of "drop the prepositional phrase and make what's left over agree." I've trained myself to have an ear for such things, as has anyone else who cares about competent grammar. "Was" is unquestionably the right choice.

speedwell2 Mar-01-2004

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Is this the same speedwell who wrote elsewhere "I especially like it that many speakers, of different dialects, can share views here in a living-language sort of way. Don't you?"

Unquestionable indeed.

Adam_Rice Mar-02-2004

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Same in what sense? Are we ever exactly the same from one moment to the next? What is the meaning of life, anyway?

(grin) I may have dropped a few brain cells between one occasion and another. Especially since I've been in meetings for hours and hours watching mouthbreathing secretaries molest the engineering documentation I've spent days writing. Forgive.

speedwell2 Mar-03-2004

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Anyone intending to be guided by the spellcheck and grammar check programmes in their computer should have themselves admitted to a psychiatric hospital now to save time :)

M_Stevenson Apr-11-2004

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ROFL Speedwell re the fate of your engineering document.

M_Stevenson Apr-11-2004

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Don't do it, Jenga! Don't use "were." You should definitely use "was." "Each" is the subject and it is singular. And regarding which sounds better? That's a matter of opinion. "Were" does not sound better to me because it's incorrect.

ladylucy1 Dec-16-2004

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Were sounds okay to me. The rest of the prose is a bit confusing, however.

http://www.phealgud.com/personal.htm

Pete1 Oct-31-2005

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On second thought, I tend to agree that "each" is the subject. The machine appears to have been right.

http://www.phealgud.com/personal.htm
http://www.phealgud.com/outlook.htm
http://www.phealgud.com/focus.htm

Pete1 Nov-01-2005

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Thanks for all of the fish.

webmaster Nov-04-2005

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Thanks for all of the fish.

slots Nov-04-2005

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Thanks for all of the fish.

slots Nov-07-2005

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Thanks for all of the fish

webmaster Nov-09-2005

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Thanks for all of the fish.

slots Nov-10-2005

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Thanks for all of the fish.

webmaster Nov-10-2005

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Thanks for all of the fish

webmaster Nov-12-2005

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