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What most people ... are/is hundreds ...

Discussion in 'English Only' started by HifaMo, Apr 13, 2013.

  1. HifaMo

    HifaMo Senior Member


    "What most people don't picture when they think of slavery are hundreds of child slaves making carpets in India ..."
    Modern-Day Slavery, Linda Bickerstaff.

    Shouldn't it be ‏'is'? Since the subject is 'What most people don't picture when they think of slavery'.
    It would be 'are?' if the the subject complement was the subject.

    Correct me please.
  2. boozer Senior Member

    Your thinking is right. I personally would have used 'is'. However, because of the proximity of 'hundreds', a plural verb also makes sense.
  3. Jim2996 Senior Member

    Boston, MA
    American English
    You are absolutely right in thinking that "what" is the subject of the sentence, and that the verb needs to agree.

    "What" can be both a singular and plural pronoun. (*Whats doesn't exist.)
    What is that? That is what I want. means the thing
    What are those? Those are what I want. means the things

    So, changing the verb makes the sentence mean something different, but not in a significant—or even noticeable—way.

    If she had started with
    The thing most people ....
    The things most people ....
    The picture most people have ....
    The pictures most people have ....

    then the is/are choice is more important. Only one choice is properly, grammatically correct.
  4. HifaMo

    HifaMo Senior Member

    Thanks a lot.

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