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

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?
 
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  • 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.
     

    Jitto Thomas

    New Member
    Malayalam - India
    Thank you Packard for the reply.

    So, An army of people argues/argue?
     
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    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.
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    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.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    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.
    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).
     
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