A lot of money and jewellery was / were stolen.

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  • xqby

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    No? I wouldn't say "a lot of money and jewels were stolen" either if at all possible.
    Mixing countable and uncountable things muddles.
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    By gut feel, I'd go with "was" as well, but not because of the timing : after all, you wouldn't say "A cashbox and a necklace was stolen", even if they were stolen all at once.

    I think it's probably because:
    A cashbox is a thing (singular); a necklace is a thing (singular); together they are two things (plural).

    Whereas:
    Money is "stuff" (singular); jewellery is "stuff" (singular); together they make more "stuff" (still singular).

    I've deliberately avoided grammatical terms here, because I'm not sure my gut-feel is grammatically justifiable.

    Any grammarians care to agree or disagree?

    W:)
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    There is a nice note at the bottom of this discussion of subject and verb agreement American Heritage Book of English Usage. It agrees that in the choice of whether to use singular or plural verbs with compound subjects, interpretation is an issue:
    Sometimes compound subjects are governed by a sense of unity and by notional agreement take a singular verb: My name and address is printed on the box. ....
    Wordsmyth's explanation of why we might be inclined to see "money and jewelry" as "governed by a sense of unity" makes sense to me.

    There are a lot of threads on "a lot of". Some of them discuss the issue of verbal agreement, though I am not certain that any discuss the particular issue raised here.
     
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