Monday, November 30, 2009

Phonics *Are Interesting

The highlighted verb is wrong (The Times, 30 November 2009).  Since phonics is the name of a subject, it should take a singular verb, is.  It is puzzling that the teacher — if she was indeed quoted correctly — chose a plural verb for phonics but a singular one for maths.  (And while we’re being pedantic, there should be a semicolon and not a comma after excellent.)

Words like mathematics, economics, acoustics and politics take singular verbs when they refer to the name of a subject or topic of study, but they take plural verbs when they refer to aspects, attributes, qualities and so on.  Hence:

Politics is my strongest subject at university.
but
The politics at work are unbearable.

2 comments:

The romantic query letter and the happy-ever-after said...

I learn something new every time I visit. Thank you for sharing and have a lovely week.

The Grammar Terrorist said...

Thank you, Simone! Hope you're keeping well too.