Friday, April 24, 2009

Subject–Verb Agreement

‘Wear and tear resulting from years of use mean that, sooner of later, this piece of plastic will chip and crack’ (Straits Times letter, 10 April 2009).

The underlined is wrong: make it means. This is because the subject of the sentence, wear and tear, is a single idea, i.e. singular. Wear and tear are not thought of as separate things.

Similarly, we’d also say Fish and chips is my favourite dish because fish and chips make up a single dish.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I felt that the usage of the word stiff was funny in the sentence. I thought it should be "The price is too steep"?

The Grammar Terrorist said...

Yes, 'steep' is a good word but 'stiff' isn't wrong either.

The Oxford Advanced Learner's gives the following example:

PRICE (6). (informal) costing a lot or too much: There's a stiff $15 entrance fee to the exhibition.