Collective nouns - the majority <is, are> ... ?

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burt81356

Senior Member
México - USA
Which of the following sentences is correct?

a) THE MAJORITY OF SERVICES IS PROVIDED BY YOUR PRIMARY PHYSICIAN

b) THE MAJORITY OF SERVICES ARE PROVIDED BY YOU PRIMARY PHYSICIAN


and why?

:confused:
 
  • Benjy

    Senior Member
    English - English
    the first one.. because even though majority is singualr, services are plural so it agrees with that. the services are what's being described :)
     

    te gato

    Senior Member
    Alberta--TGE (te gato English)
    Benjy said:
    the first one.. because even though majority is singualr, services are plural so it agrees with that. the services are what's being described :)
    Hi Benjy;
    Question....You said that it is the 'services' that are being described..and they are in plural form..(No argument there from me) but if it is plural then you need to use 'are'...
    Example:
    How many students are there in your English class? How many students is there in your English class? The word students is plural, so you must use the plural form of the verb 'to be': are.


    your thoughts??
    te gato;)
     

    Benjy

    Senior Member
    English - English
    te gato said:
    Hi Benjy;
    Question....You said that it is the 'services' that are being described..and they are in plural form..(No argument there from me) but if it is plural then you need to use 'are'...
    Example:
    How many students are there in your English class? How many students is there in your English class? The word students is plural, so you must use the plural form of the verb 'to be': are.


    your thoughts??
    te gato;)
    arg. im brain dead and don't think before i write. i meant to say the second one lol.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Benjy said:
    the first one.. because even though majority is singualr, services are plural so it agrees with that. the services are what's being described :)
    I know it isn't difficult, but you have confused me entirely.

    a) THE MAJORITY OF SERVICES IS PROVIDED BY YOUR PRIMARY PHYSICIAN

    b) THE MAJORITY OF SERVICES ARE PROVIDED BY YOU PRIMARY PHYSICIAN
    If it's 'the first one', the you seem to be saying that 'services is' is correct.

    I think you need to pay a little less attention to the animalitos and flores and clarify what you mean here. These statements is confusing me.

    cuchu
     

    Benjy

    Senior Member
    English - English
    cuchuflete said:
    I know it isn't difficult, but you have confused me entirely.



    If it's 'the first one', the you seem to be saying that 'services is' is correct.

    I think you need to pay a little less attention to the animalitos and flores and clarify what you mean here. These statements is confusing me.

    cuchu
    hahhahahaha. it's me being silly again (see the post above yours)
     

    jacinta

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Poor Benjy. I won't say anything to you about your little brain freeze :)

    Everyone is correct to say that in this case, even though majority is singular, the verb agrees with the noun closest to it. Otherwise, it would sound wrong.
     

    Nick

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    jacinta said:
    Everyone is correct to say that in this case, even though majority is singular, the verb agrees with the noun closest to it. Otherwise, it would sound wrong.
    It is funny how this is not always the case. English has a lot of exceptions that we (native speakers) don't really think about. :)

    We say "One of the directors is missing." even though directors, the noun closest to the verb, is plural. However, we say "The majority of the students are learning."
     

    lsp

    Senior Member
    NY
    US, English
    Nick said:
    It is funny how this is not always the case. English has a lot of exceptions that we (native speakers) don't really think about. :)

    We say "One of the directors is missing." even though directors, the noun closest to the verb, is plural. However, we say "The majority of the students are learning."
    I think technically it is correct to say "is" because majority, the subject, is singluar. "Of services" is a prepositional phrase and doesn't force the verb form.

    However, because majority is suggestive of "more than one" it is used and accepted with "are" simply because it sounds better.

    Same as "One of the directors is missing." One = subject, of the directors = prepositional phrase. Singular subject (one), therefore verb =is.
     

    LizzieUSA

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I agree with Isp. This case is the exception, not the rule, because majority is a collective noun. The verb must agree with the subject, not with the object of the preposition. And in fact, in this sentence the word "services" is not being described. Instead, "services" is part of a phrase that describes the subject "majority" (what majority? --majority of services) and the verb ALWAYS describes the subject, not the noun closest to it. So in this case, we are treating the collective noun 'majority' as a plural. Collective nouns confuse the heck out of me, so here's another example.

    The group was playful.
    The group of monkeys was playful.
    The monkeys were playful.

    So it seems to me that collective nouns can be singular or plural, depending on what sounds right or what sense the noun has. Please feel free to correct me on this if I'm wrong...


    Okay, now to firmer ground. Question sentences are deceiving because they're constructed in an odd order. Take te gato's example. "How many students are there in your class?" 'How' and 'many' are modifiers. The subject is 'students', therefore the verb 'to be' must agree with 'students' -- 'are'. Same way with sentences starting with 'there'. "There are thirty students." The subject is still 'students' and the actual mental construction is "Thirty students are there". 'Thirty' and 'there' are both modifiers.

    Okay, this is confusing, but I'm posting it anyway since I already went through all the mental gymnastics to get it typed out. :eek:
     

    Polpo_D

    Senior Member
    English ϟ USA
    It should be noted that there are different classes of collective nouns.

    'Group' & 'Family' are in a class that always takes the singular.
    My family is enormous.
    What group is playing?​

    'People' on the other hand, always takes the plural.
    The people are bewildered.​

    'Majority' & 'Minority' are in a class of collective nouns that can take either the singular or plural.

    ... but the majority are unwilling to cooperate. :tick:
    ... but the majority is unwilling to cooperate. :tick:


    The difference is that 'majority' / 'minority' require the plural when they have a specifying plural phrase such as '...OF SERVICES'. or '... of people'
    So yes, 'majority' is the subject of the sentence but in this situation the plural form is required.
     
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