Friday, May 30, 2008

Example of Noun-Number accord

Most Indian students, and some fellow Indian professors [including some professors of English] do face a problem with the noun-number accord in grammar. Now, this may sound preposterous! And it might sound insulting to few.

But I would like to illustrate with an example. If you look at this recent story on the plight of students in Gaza not being allowed Fulbright scholarships at The New York Times, if you go to the last paragraph, you could read the sentence "She, like her six colleagues, was in disbelief." Now, I know people, including students and some academics who would probably write "She, like her six colleagues, were in disbelief", where they would write 'were' in the same linguistic context thinking that it should be 'were' because it was 'like her six colleagues' preceding the verb.

This is a common error that many people make. Here, the noun 'she' has to be taken as one unit along with what appears in the parenthesis, 'like her six colleagues', and so, the 'meaning unit' is still singular and not plural.

I hope you liked this little snippet.

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