Monday, November 7, 2011

usage of numbers in English sentence


You have learn already that usage refers to the customary manner in which a language is spoken or written by its educated users; and that unless you are careful you are likely to be trapped into ‘problems’ or ‘errors’ leading to communication of wrong meanings.

Further to some of these problems you learnt previously, this unit helps you to be aware of other types of common usage problems/ errors. Classified under different heads, the problems are presented with relevant explanations and ways to avoid them in your use of English.

Number: is the form of a word that indicates whether the word is singular or plural.
A word that refers to one person or thing is singular in number.A
word that refers to more than one is plural in number.
Agreement of Subject and Verb:
A verb should agree with its subject in number.
Singular subjects take singular verbs
Examples: My grandfather trains dogs.
The senator is in favour of the bill.
They own and operate a video store.

Like the one-word verb in each of these examples, a verb phrase must also agree in number with its subject. The number of a verb phrase is indicated by the form of its first auxiliary (helping) verb.

This song was performed by Bonnie Raitt. (singular subject and verb phrase)

These songs were performed by Bonnie Raitt. (plural subject and verb phrase)

Intervening phrases and clauses:

The number of the subject is not changed by a phrase or a clause following the subject.

Examples: This tape is by the Boston Pops Orchestra.

This tape of songs is by the Boston Pops Orchestra. (The prepositional phrase of songs does not affect the number of the subject tape.)

The characters represent abstract ideas.

The characters in an allegory represent abstract ideas. (The prepositional phrase in an allegory does not affect the number of the subject characters.)

The number of the subject is also not affected when the subject is followed by a phrase that begins with an expression such as along with, as well as, in addition to, and together with.

Examples: The history teacher, as well as her students, was fascinated by the exhibit of artefacts at the DusableMuseum of African History. (singular subject and verb)

The history students, as well as their teacher, were fascinated by the exhibit of articles at the DusableMuseum of African American History. (plural subject and verb)

Task: Identifying subjects and verbs that Agree in Number - For each of the following sentences, identify the subject of the verb in parentheses. Then choose the verb form that agrees in number with the subject.

Example: The many varieties of American quilts (reflect, reflects) the spirit of the people who developed them. varieties – reflect

1. The abilities that someone needs to make a quilt (include, includes) patience, coordination, and a good sense of colour and design.

2. A scrap-bag full of colourful bits of cotton and wool fabrics (was put, were put) to good use in a quilt.

3. Amish quilts, which are often brightly coloured, (seem, seems) to convey the joyous spirits of their makers.

4. Several quilters, gathering at one person’s home for a quilting bee, often (work, works) on a quilt together.

Quilts designed by the Amish usually (include, includes) only solid- colour fabrics, not patterned ones.

6. This quilt, which features colours typical to Amish quilts, (glow, glows) with red, purple, blue, pink, and green.

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