what I see are/is

VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
-- Look at all of these things that people built. You might see a mess...
-- (.......) And a bunch of weird, dorky stuff that ruined my perfectly good stuff!
-- (...) What I see are people inspired by each other and by you. People taking what you made and making something new out of it.
The Lego Movie

I think it should've been "what I see is ...", am I correct? Thank you.
 
  • ingsos11

    Member
    English
    I would say that it is 'what I see are' as it is referring to 'people' which is plural. Out of interest, why do you believe it is 'what I see is'?
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    I would say that it is 'what I see are' as it is referring to 'people' which is plural. Out of interest, why do you believe it is 'what I see is'?
    Because the verb agrees with the subject -- which is "what I see" -- rather than with the object -- which is "people". And the subject is singular. No?:)
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    To be more precise, "people inspired by each other and by you" is not the object, but the predicat, or complement, or so...
     

    ingsos11

    Member
    English
    Because the verb agrees with the subject -- which is "what I see" -- rather than with the object -- which is "people". And the subject is singular. No?:)
    Hmmm. Isn't the subject 'I'? And the object is 'people', or 'what I see' ? The verb 'to be' needs to be in plural form as it has to agree with the object ? Doesn't it?

    To be more precise, "people inspired by each other and by you" is not the object, but the predicat, or complement, or so...
    It's tricky because I do see where you're coming from. I know for sure that if I heard somebody say 'What I see is people inspired by each other and by you' I would naturally want to correct this to 'are' . Don't take my word for it though, it's just my first response as a native speaker. I may be wrong so don't put all your trust in me! :)
     
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    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Thank you !

    Hmmm. Isn't the subject 'I'? And the object is 'people', or 'what I see' ? The verb 'to be' needs to be in plural form as it has to agree with the object ? Doesn't it?
    "I" is the performer of the action, but not the grammatical subject of the sentence, which is definitely "what I see". And "what I see" can't take a plural verb. I was sure!:D
    So let's wait for other's answers.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    What are those? What as a question word may be singular or plural and the verb indicates which.
    People are what I see. :tick: People is what I see:cross:
    What is that? It is a group of people.:tick: It is people.:cross:
    What I see are people walking by the river.

    Cross-posted
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    The number of "what" as a pronoun is often determined by what "what" refers to. "People" is plural. "What" refers to "people".
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Thank you everyone!

    But why is the version with "is" more common anyway? Here are the exact numbers of google hits:
    "What I see is men" = 52
    "What I see is women" = 61
    "What I see are men" = 30
    "What I see are women" = 40
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Thank you everyone!

    But why is the version with "is" more common anyway? Here are the exact numbers of google hits:
    "What I see is men" = 52
    "What I see is women" = 61
    "What I see are men" = 30
    "What I see are women" = 40
    Oh, no! About 40% (or about 60%) of the English speakers are breaking the rule:( :eek:
    Perhaps if you check out each of those examples you might find that the emphasis is on one or the other component "the people" or "what I see". The results, in any case, answer your OP and inform you that they are both used:)
     

    Korisnik116

    Senior Member
    Croatian
    According to M. Swan in Practical English Usage (3rd ed., 2005),
    A what-clause is normally considered to be singular. [...] [A] plural verb is sometimes possible before a plural noun in an informal style.
    What we want is/are some of those cakes.
    What she needs is friends.
    (More natural than What she needs are friends.)​
    However, plural verbs are often used before longer plural complements, especially if what is a long way from the verb.
    What we need most of all are some really new ideas.
     
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