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I read the following sentence on YouTube and initially thought it was grammatically incorrect:

Here are 10 minutes of the movie Black Hawk Down!

I thought "are" should have been "is" but then I realized minutes is plural so the plural form, are, is used correctly. I also thought how most people would naturally say "Here is ten dollars in change" but is the use of the singular form, is, correct since dollars is plural?

Am I misunderstanding a rule?

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Celeritas, for what is worth, I think "here is ten dollars in change" is idiomatic English. So, even if it is ungrammatical, it is commonly accepted speeck. –  user19148 Jul 28 '13 at 9:03
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Here are several related questions‌​; you might want to start here or here. –  J.R. Jul 28 '13 at 9:29

2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

In most cases, if the subject and verb do not agree then we have a grammatical error, as in the following examples:

My friend have a dog.

I never eats cheese.

However, there are cases where semantics overrides the usual agreement rules. This often occurs with collective nouns:

The committee have decided to disband.

The team are not playing very well.

In such cases the speaker conceptualises the committee or team in terms of their members.

The opposite occurs in examples such as:

Three weeks seems a long time.

Here's ten dollars.

Two eggs is plenty.

According to the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (p504):

... here an NP (noun phrase) that is formally plural is conceptualised as referring to a single measure (of time, money, distance, or whatever) and accordingly takes a singular verb. The measure override is characteristically found with be or other complex-intransitive verbs such as seem.

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This has nothing to do with countable vs uncountable nouns, correct? –  Celeritas Jul 28 '13 at 10:03
    
Only indirectly, to the extent that the issue of semantic override in time and money expressions applies only to countable nouns. I can't conceive of a sentence where an uncountable noun is followed by a plural verb: The money are not enough. His luck were bad. The countability of a noun is most often of significance in deciding which article (if any) to use. –  Shoe Jul 28 '13 at 10:19
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Here is ten dollars is the usual phrase, because it is probably a single banknote. Here are ten dollars is what you would say if counting out ten silver dollars (worth a good deal more than $1 each). –  TimLymington Jul 28 '13 at 11:15
    
@Tim. Good point. This makes it clear when 10 dollars can be conceptualised as a singular and as a plural entity. –  Shoe Jul 28 '13 at 11:19
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@TimLymington: I don't know, I think money often gets regrouped as a single object when you're dealing with it as money rather than a set of discrete objects. For example, if I put a pile of coins on the table and asked someone how much, I'd expect them to say "That's seven dollars and 38 cents," rather than "Those are seven dollars and 38 cents." –  Aesin Jul 28 '13 at 11:57

Here is ten minutes of the movie.

Here is two dollars.

The amount, in these examples is taken as a singular value. Here is a ten minute part of the movie.

Here are the ten minutes of the movie.

Here are the two dollars.

The focus is shifted to the number of minutes, as opposed to a part of the movie.

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