Everyone values and are


Senior Member
Ukrainian & Russian
Everyone values wisdom and disdains stupidity, and are unable to change their habit of crudely blowing their own horns, even when an ordered age descends into chaos.
(Analects; Confucius, E. Slingerland)

Would you be so kind as to tell me whether it should not be 'is' by any chance?

  • Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    Clearly this is an attempt at English translation of something Confucius wrote, and the author (Slingerland, I assume) has created a problem for himself or herself. You're absolutely right that "everyone", because it's singular, calls for is. But then that creates another problem: there are more plurals later in the sentence (their habit, their own horns).

    Without totally rewriting, the answer would be to make the initial subject plural, changing "Everyone values" to "All people value" (same meaning); then "are" would be correct and would agree with the rest of the sentence.

    Good for you for spotting the problem! :)


    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    'Is' is correct there, and the later forms of 'they' create no problem. It is quite natural to use 'they' after 'everyone' and accordingly switch from singular to plural verbs:

    Everyone is fond of wisdom, and they are unable to . . .

    Although 'they' is singular, it strictly takes plural verbs after it. No-one would say the original sentence, which must have arisen by an editing mistake (omitting a use of 'they', perhaps, or just not thinking).