Sunday, March 28, 2010

Subject–Verb Agreement

The highlighted verb is wrong (Sunday Times Lifestyle, 14 March 2010).  Make it is, because the subject of the sentence is making reservations at high-end restaurants, a non-finite clause and hence grammatically singular.

2 comments:

David Deterding said...

This is a classic example where proximity ('restaurants') overrides the head of the subject ('making'). Or maybe it is both 'reservations' and 'restaurants' that push 'making' into the background.

I bet lots of people in the UK and USA would also make this mistake.

The Grammar Terrorist said...

Yes, but I believe it's rarer there. I read Time magazine and the British papers regularly and find they rarely make this sort of mistake, whereas it is very common in Singaporean newspapers, to the point where I automatically check for subject-verb agreement when I spot a complex noun phrase as subject!

I recall that you had an explanation for this which involved the headedness of noun phrases -- I think as a possible influence of Chinese on Singapore English.