English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'm having some issues with a sentence that is part of the purpose in a report that I'm writing. I'm not sure if the word "communicate" (in bold) should be singular or plural.

The applications in the "set" will communicate with each other, not with other "sets".

The purpose of this report is to develop a sample set of applications that communicates between services on the internet, mobile devices and a central processing unit in a motor vehicle.

share|improve this question
Use the plural form (communicate) if you mean the "applications in the "set" will communicate with each other". – user21497 Mar 27 '13 at 14:19
can communicate – mplungjan Mar 27 '13 at 14:30
If the applications each communicate, then plural. If the applications each contain only a simple function, so that several of them are required to complete a communication (e.g. set up a session, send a message, close the session), then it's the set that's communicating, so singular. – DavidR Mar 27 '13 at 15:09

You have a set (of applications that communicate) not a set (of applications) that communicates, right?

share|improve this answer
Actually the applications communicate(s?) between themselves. So I guess it should be communicates? – span Mar 27 '13 at 15:46
@span okay, I'll bite: what's with the S in parentheses? If "the applications communicates" is even an option for you, you should be posting on English Language Learners instead. Also, if the applications actually communicate between themselves, you'll probably have to rewrite your original sentence to include that. – RegDwigнt Mar 27 '13 at 16:52
@span, the point is that the applications communicate, not the set. – Kevin Mar 27 '13 at 19:58
Ok, thank you friends. I rewrote my sentence. Thank you for your efforts. Sorry I can't accept this as a correct answer as it seems to me that RegDwighт has a strong point. – span Mar 27 '13 at 23:16

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.