A majority of dogs have/has long tails.

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toway

Senior Member
Russian
I have a question on how to use verbs in sentences like:

'A majority of dogs have long tails.'

Is it right to use have or should I change it for has because of 'majority',
that is a singular noun, especially when this fact is gained by the article 'a' before this word?
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Definitely 'have'. At least in BrE. It's the only possibility, because only the dogs have tails.* Even omitting the dogs, you say that the majority have long tails. It's a quantifying word like 'lot', 'number', whose number is always ignored: Some dogs have short tails, but a lot have long tails.

    * That makes it different from some other group words: if a group of dogs is/are attacking me, then it's true both that the dogs are attacking me and that the group is attacking me. A group can attack, but a majority can't have a tail.
     
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