A swathe of society believes or believe [also 'swath']

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Jitto Thomas, Mar 30, 2015.

  1. Jitto Thomas New Member

    Malayalam - India
    Can someone help me with is phrase as I have a lot of confusion about it.


    A swathe of society believes or believe?
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2015
  2. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    Believes.

    It is a single subset of society. It is singular even though it represents a large number.

    "Army" is similar. It represents a large number of individuals. But it is singular.

    The army is on the move across the continent.
     
  3. Jitto Thomas New Member

    Malayalam - India
    Thank you Packard for the reply.

    So, An army of people argues/argue?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 30, 2015
  4. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    The army is a singular subset of society. It argues.

    The soldiers within the army can argue a point, but the entire army argues.
     
  5. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    There's a big difference between "swathe of society" and "army of people", which is that in the first phrase both words are singular, while in the second "people" is plural (it's the plural of 'person').

    So it's far easier to say An army of people argue :tick: than A swathe of society believe :cross:. This is in addition to the fact that if they argue, they're obviously divided; if they believe, they would seem to be of a single mind.
     
  6. Jitto Thomas New Member

    Malayalam - India
    Thank you.
     
  7. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    An army can argue amongst themselves as many voices or as a unit in a single voice. I was referring to the army arguing against another army, not internally. Your point about the other noun (people) is well-taken.

    But the answer remains the same. "Swath of people" is singular. It takes the singular verb (believes).
     

Share This Page

Loading...