EN: The third aspect is/are the similarities - verb agreement with subject or predicate?

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by gui0322, Apr 27, 2013.

  1. gui0322 Senior Member

    North of France
    French, France
    I know, my "message" is not a word or an expression, but my question concerns long sentences.
    - I have a problem in English with agreement in number when the subject of a sentence is singular and the object is plural. I thought the rule was that the verb agreed in number with the subject but I heard the following sentence recently, spoken by a native English-speaking academic: "The third recurrent aspect are the similarities in the descriptions of a and b". Is there a rule which states that in certain cases the verb agrees with the object? Does it depend on the verb?
    - During the same lecture, I heard the same professor say "What these fights engender are a rebirth in Dad." In this case, the verb is still "be", the object is singular, and I do not know if the subject is "what" or "these fights", and if "what" can be considered plural. Can someone help me with these rules? I am only asking for help because in French, the verb would be in the singular in both cases.
    Thank you very much for your help.
  2. MarcusK Senior Member

    Pour la première phrase, je dirais que l'accord se fait normalement, non avec l'objet mais avec le sujet, mais que celui-ci se trouve à la fin en raison d'une inversion, cf. "the similarities are the third recurrent aspect". On trouve d'ailleurs ce genre de tournures en français aussi.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2013
  3. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    Pour la première phrase, les avis sont partagés et le débat fait rage, mais la majorité des anglophones accordent le verbe avec le sujet apparent, c'est-à-dire le terme précédant le verbe.

    The third recurrent aspect is the similarities in the descriptions of a and b.
    (The third recurrent aspect are the similarities in the descriptions of a and b.)

    Quant à la seconde phrase, elle est indiscutablement incorrecte parce que tant le sujet what these fights engender, qui est neutre, que le complément a rebirth in Dad sont singuliers.

    What these fights engender is a rebirth in Dad. = These fights engender something, which is a rebirth in Dad. (Cela dit, je ne comprends pas ce que rebirth in Dad signifie…)

    Il y a de nombreux fils à ce sujet sur le forum English Only ; en voici quelques-uns :
    The only thing she can trust (is / are) her dogs.
    The first thing I've checked is/are the messages.
    is vs are
    filters is... VS filters are...
    The main thing ... <is/are> the cars.
    predicate nominative
    Singular or Plural in Predicative Expressions?
    Pseudo-Cleft Sentences with WHAT
    When "what" is the subject, should the verb agree in number with the predicate?
    What most people ... are/is hundreds ...
    What I need <is/are> some answers [What + plural complement]
    What determines ... <is/are> one's ethical views [What + plural complement]
    What is/are most crucial is/are
  4. gui0322 Senior Member

    North of France
    French, France
    Bonjour et merci vivement pour votre aide. Bonne journée.

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