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Joined: August 12, 2010
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Five eggs is too many

June 30, 2013

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@WW The marking schema for IELTS writing band 8 (page 23)

"The majority of sentences are error-free" (using a plural verb)

Right now I cannot think of a context where I would regard "The majority of sentences is error-free" as normal, or standard.

However "a majority of students is ,," does crop up although seemingly rare in books.
When it comes to talking about votes/voting, majority is often used with a singular verb.

jayles May 26, 2014, 10:57am

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@WW Thanks.
I stumbled on a slip-up re "a number of" - the verb here refers to "increase" not number:
"There has been an increase in the number of incidents recently."

Unfortunately this type of sentence is very necessary to fulfil Task A (the graph description) in IELTS. It is also best to avoid "a lot of" which sounds rather informal, and substitute phrases like "a great deal of" or "a large number of", or much/many.

Incidentally there seems to be a rule of thumb for "number of":
"a number of * " takes a plural verb
"the number of * " takes a singular verb.

A careful look on ngrams seems to support this. (as do your examples in previous post)

jayles May 26, 2014, 10:16am

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"it is I who", and "it was I who", seem commoner in books than the "me" versions:

jayles May 25, 2014, 8:15pm

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Perhaps it would be more helpful to focus on real life examples. The following come from published books:
"It is I, Sea Gull;": Valentina Tereshkova, First Woman in ...
It is I who have chosen you: an autobiography
it is I who am responsible for my character.
In fact the phrase "it is I who..." or "it is I that.." is by far the commonest way "it is I" is used. Or even:
(Josephine Klein - 2003 )
It is I whom you delight in ... It is I whom you serve; it is I whom you long for, whom you desire; it is I whom you mean; it is I who am all. Twelfth Revelation,

"it is I." appears in "Life is Tough, But God is Faithful: How to See God's Love ..."

All That We See and Do - Page 117: It is I, Nordia. It is I. It is OK. I am that powerful. I'll show My might...

And lastly:

Clearly an amazing example of how to teach modern English idiom.

jayles May 25, 2014, 5:50pm

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse*+was%3Aeng_gb_2012%2Ca+number+of+*+were%3Aeng_gb_2012&year_start=1800&year_end=2008&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t2%3B%2Ca%20number%20of%20*%20was%3Aeng_gb_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%2Cs0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20years%20was%3Aeng_gb_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20them%20was%3Aeng_gb_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20men%20was%3Aeng_gb_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20people%20was%3Aeng_gb_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20cases%20was%3Aeng_gb_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20experiments%20was%3Aeng_gb_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20countries%20was%3Aeng_gb_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20ships%20was%3Aeng_gb_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20occasions%20was%3Aeng_gb_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20others%20was%3Aeng_gb_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B.t2%3B%2Ca%20number%20of%20*%20were%3Aeng_gb_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%2Cs0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20them%20were%3Aeng_gb_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20people%20were%3Aeng_gb_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20men%20were%3Aeng_gb_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20persons%20were%3Aeng_gb_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20others%20were%3Aeng_gb_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20which%20were%3Aeng_gb_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20these%20were%3Aeng_gb_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20whom%20were%3Aeng_gb_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20women%20were%3Aeng_gb_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20children%20were%3Aeng_gb_2012%3B%2Cc0

jayles May 25, 2014, 3:40pm

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse*+was%3Aeng_us_2012%2Ca+number+of+*+were%3Aeng_us_2012%2C&year_start=1800&year_end=2008&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t2%3B%2Ca%20number%20of%20*%20was%3Aeng_us_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%2Cs0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20years%20was%3Aeng_us_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20leagues%20was%3Aeng_us_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20men%20was%3Aeng_us_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20cases%20was%3Aeng_us_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20them%20was%3Aeng_us_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20others%20was%3Aeng_us_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20nations%20was%3Aeng_us_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20people%20was%3Aeng_us_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20times%20was%3Aeng_us_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20persons%20was%3Aeng_us_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B.t2%3B%2Ca%20number%20of%20*%20were%3Aeng_us_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%2Cs0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20them%20were%3Aeng_us_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20men%20were%3Aeng_us_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20persons%20were%3Aeng_us_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20people%20were%3Aeng_us_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20others%20were%3Aeng_us_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20whom%20were%3Aeng_us_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20which%20were%3Aeng_us_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20Indians%20were%3Aeng_us_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20prisoners%20were%3Aeng_us_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Ba%20number%20of%20these%20were%3Aeng_us_2012%3B%2Cc0

jayles May 25, 2014, 3:40pm

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The following illustrate deviant behavior of Brits

jayles May 25, 2014, 3:39pm

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@WW me too. I was wondering whether it might be a good idea to explore the usage of "quasi-determiners" (like 'the bulk of', "a great number of", and so on) and maybe come up with a list which are most commonly used with the plural verb even in US English, unless this is already covered in Hewins or somewhere I have missed. For instance:
"The overwhelming majority of students in my class falls asleep within ten minutes".
"The couple on the backseat was kissing". (see ngram below)
"The pair of doves was cooing." (50/50)
"Four pairs of trousers were found in her shopping bag.".
"The pair was inseperable." (not found on ngrams)
I do realise that one could apply the "notiional" agreement concept here; just looking for a shortlist which almost always use plural verb

jayles May 25, 2014, 3:31pm

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In the meantime there seem to be lots more hits on google for phrases like "she texted yesterday" than "she text yesterday"; so at the moment "texted" seems more common.

jayles May 24, 2014, 1:40pm

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It is indeed true that some verbs have changed from the "ablaut" (vowel-change) sytem to the common "regular" inflection system, and a few have gone the other way. So technically there's no reason why "text" shouldn't one day become the standard past form. Stick around a few decades and we'll see.

jayles May 24, 2014, 1:33pm

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Well the Latin plural of innuendo might be innuendis; but really best avoided; hints would be a better word-choice.

jayles May 24, 2014, 9:57am

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"advocating for" as a phrase has upticked dramatically since 1980 in google books, especially in US English. Whether this is use or misuse, or a shift in the language is debatable.

jayles May 22, 2014, 8:16pm

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Or alternatively one could join the Quakers who might accommodate your thou-ward leanings

jayles May 21, 2014, 4:13pm

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Until at least WWI, thou was widespread across a large expanse of Northern England.
It was still used withing the family in Derbyshire in 1970's. For instance, "astha put 'bike in't ginnel?" I think if you went there today and talked to older people you would find it still alive and well. "Art thou" sounds like "artha".
Check out D H Lawrence:

jayles May 21, 2014, 4:06pm

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@WW "Slough is a rather characterless town"
Surely the train station, the mixed bus/pedestrian high street, the Mars factory, the linked traffic lights, a selection of excellent brothels, and a helpful branch of Samaritans, lend it a certain je ne sais quoi. If you go there, please keep an eye out for my virginity.

jayles May 20, 2014, 11:39pm

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see the section on literacy rates - basically simplification has not improved literacy.

The real catch with English is we have about 11 basic vowels but only aeiou and y on our keyboard so some agreed sistem would b kneaded if truely hole-sale change was the goal. One needs to address bakwards compatibility and word-reference books and the whole issue of ASCII/UTF-8/sort-sequence if one includes extra chars.

I do agrree that alternative spellings of -ough words are well worth thinking about.
<a href="" >

jayles May 20, 2014, 4:13pm

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse family is%3Aeng_us_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2CMy family is%3Aeng_gb_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2CMy family are%3Aeng_gb_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2CMy family family is%3Aeng_us_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2CMy family is%3Aeng_gb_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2CMy family are%3Aeng_gb_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2CMy family are%3Aeng_us_2012%3B%2Cc0

jayles May 19, 2014, 4:12pm

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Ngram must be a very blunt instrument indeed as I still can't get "My family are" to top "My family is" , just lots of "noise" on the former and seemingly rare true instances of family with a plural verb.

/ family is%3Aeng_us_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2CMy family is%3Aeng_gb_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2CMy family are%3Aeng_gb_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2CMy family are%3Aeng_us_2012%3B%2Cc0

jayles May 19, 2014, 4:10pm

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@WW thank you ; that just about wraps it up as far as I'm concerned.
Not surprised results for "Each family are" are spurious ; I really expected zero when I keyed it in.

jayles May 19, 2014, 11:22am

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Perhaps the bit about sports commentators was not clear: I meant that just because one can point to a few examples or a particular usage does not prove that it is normal or standard; one needs to establish that the usage is common, widespread, and substantial.

jayles May 19, 2014, 11:17am

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