A syntactic word-group is a combination of words forming one part of the sentence.

If we have a sentence with the subject expressed by a syntactic word-group its elements cannot be used separately without destroying the meaning of the sentence; only the whole word-group (in the above examples: Andreis and I, matter and spirit) can serve as the subject in the given sentence.

(b) The predicate-verb is in the singular when the subject is expressed by several nouns which represent one person or thing, or two people or things forming a close unit often corresponding to one notion.

... the wife and mother was asked with affectionate deference before the plan was made. (Broughton)

A carriage and pair was passing through the lodge gates of Transome court. (Eliot)

... Chitterlow'sneedle and thread in his still unmended trouser leg was making an annoying little noise on the pavement behind him. (Wells)

2. If the subject is expressed by a word-group consisting of two nouns connected by the preposition with, or the expression together with, the predicate-verb is in the singular.

It should be noted that these word-groups are very seldom found in English.

A woman with a child on the third floor is screaming and wav­ing her free hand frantically. (Dreiser)

An engine with a number of trucks was creeping up splut­tering and snorting, halting and knocking. (Lindsay)

3. If the subject is expressed by a syntactic word-group the first element of which denotes an indefinite number or amount, such as а number of..., a variety of..., the majority of..., a lot of..., plenty of..., a mass of... etc., the predicate may be in the singular or in the plural. In most cases the form of the predicate depends on the form and meaning of the second element, which from a semantic point of view is the dominant element of the word-group.

A number of cars were parked on the lot before atwo-storey building. (Maltz)

A number of Connoisseurs were sitting and standing about (Galsworthy)

There were a number of paper-covered booklets too (Cronin)

The majority of the old seamen are but little moved by such graven beauty. (Dreiser)

The vastmajority of men and women were not essentially above slavery even when they had all the guarantees of a con­stitution formulated to prevent it. (Dreiser)

"There is a lot of truth in that," said Jonson cautiously. (Lind­say)

A lot of people are coming. (Hichens)

"There are a lot of things still for you to believe," says Mr. Ever sham, beaming. (Wells)

The troubles and hardships of war were over, but there were stillplenty of others to be coped with. (Sommerfield)

There were plenty of rooms (at the hotel). (Hemingway)



Note. The nouns number and variety may retain their concrete mean­ing (количество, разнообразие) and serve as subject of the sentence. In this case they are used with the definite article; the of-phrase that follows them is a separate part of the sentence — an attribute to the subject. The predicate is naturally in the singular as it agrees with the subject the number, the variety.

They tell me thatthe number of teachers in town has not in­creased in years. (Hughes)

Heracquaintance was fairly large, the number of her intimates was small. (Swinnerton)

4.If the subject is expressed by the word-group many a... the predi­cate is in the singular.

The banks of the Avon are beautiful in these parts.Many an artist comes there. (Thurston)

There is many a slip between the cup and the lip. (proverb)

... hospitality obliges as much as nobleness, andmany a sound­ing lie has been told in its name. (Broughton)

5.If the subject is expressed by a group of words denoting arithmetic calculations (addition, subtraction, division) the predicate is usually singular; multiplication presents an exception as the verb may be in the Angular or in the plural.

Two and two is four.

Six minus four is two.

Twenty divided by five equals four.

Twice two is (are) four.


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