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Been watching Masterchef for a while now and I notice than Gordon always says:

Your sixty minutes starts . . . now!

I notice it often because it sounds wrong to my ear. I was just watching it and now Joe's at it too. Shouldn't it be:

Your sixty minutes start . . . now!

Or is sixty minutes up there somehow equivalent to:

Your time starts . . . now!

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Strongly related: english.stackexchange.com/questions/92868/… –  Andrew Leach Aug 30 '13 at 6:31
    
Gordon? Masterchef U.S. of course.... –  James Woolfenden Aug 30 '13 at 16:14
    
Both variants seem to be about equally popular. –  n.m. Aug 30 '13 at 16:43
    
The rule, however, seems to be that plural unit words of distance, money, and time take a singular verb. The exact wording of the rule varies by the book, but if you google for it many references pop out. –  n.m. Aug 30 '13 at 18:05
    
Thanks for the link, I found this snippet of info: "Expressions stating amount of time, money, weight, volume are plural in form but take a singular verb as in: Three weeks is a long time. Two hundred dollars is a lot of money. –  Mari-Lou A Aug 30 '13 at 20:12

3 Answers 3

Your sixty minutes does not represent a collection of separate minutes, each of which is starting at the same time. Rather sixty minutes is a single logical unit of time.

As such, the verb starts is the proper singular form, agreeing with the logical singular time period. Start, the plural form, would be appropriate only if each and every one of those minutes started simultaneously when Gordon spoke. In which case, ironically, you would only have a single minute to win it.

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Yeah, that makes sense. I was just thinking about it myself and it sounds right to say "60 minutes is all I have" as opposed to "60 minutes are all I have." Also, "4 years is required to finish the degree" over "4 years are required to to finish the degree." Only in the sentence I posted does it sound awkward to me. But what about "3 minutes have passed" . . . wouldn't this mean that it should be "3 minutes has passed"? "Four years have passed since he died" sounds better to me than "Four years has passed since he died"? –  Zene Aug 30 '13 at 3:46
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Actually, fwiw, I think "4 years are required to to finish the degree" is more correct than "4 years is required to to finish the degree." Can you see why? –  simon Aug 30 '13 at 5:30
    
@Zene there is an experiential difference between a preset period of time and a period of time that passes. The first is established and treated as a single thing. The latter is lived (and usually perceived) unit by unit. I think there is often a choice for the latter. Ten years is your prison sentence. But either Ten years have passed ... or Ten years has passed ... –  bib Aug 30 '13 at 11:01

I believe starts would be correct.

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You are expressing an opinion. In providing answers it is good form to supply evidence or an explanation to back them up. –  Mari-Lou A Aug 30 '13 at 3:17
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I'm not sure how to explain it. But I have always been tought to use it that way. The car starts up. The TV show starts now. When does the TV show start. Not when does the TV show starts –  Ben P. Dorsi-Todaro Aug 30 '13 at 3:22
    
Then add these examples to your answer, they are valid and helpful to the person asking the question. –  Mari-Lou A Aug 30 '13 at 3:43
    
Car and TV show are more obviously singular than 60 minutes is. –  Bradd Szonye Aug 30 '13 at 7:57

There are twenty four hours a day. Do we ever say there is 24 hours a day? No, we don't, or we shouldn't. The hours are sequential, they follow one after the other. The hours of the day do not and will never start simultaneously.

Did you see what I did there? I used the verb start in its plural form, not in the singular.

One hour consists of sixty minutes. (Here the verb, consists, is in the singular because the subject, one hour, is singular.)

The sixty minutes start now.

Regardless which possessive adjective precedes the noun, we ought to use the plural verb form and therefore:

My/your/his/her/our/their sixty minutes start now.

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24 hours is not a long time. Do you see what I did here? –  n.m. Aug 30 '13 at 17:37
    
But "time" is singular, whereas 24 hours and 60 minutes are not. –  Mari-Lou A Aug 30 '13 at 17:39
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People on this forum are a tough crowd to please! (Do you see what I did here?) The problem here is that in your sentence, There are twenty four hours a day, "twenty four hours" is not the subject. "There" is the (dummy) subject. The verb agrees with the subject, not the object. –  n.m. Aug 30 '13 at 17:56
    
:) You made me smile. OK, conceded, you are right about "there", but in the sentence; "The 60 minutes" and in "your 60 minutes" is the subject. But as I'm learning all the time, and I have these doubts, if I don't dare I will never progress! –  Mari-Lou A Aug 30 '13 at 18:03
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That's of course absolutely correct: the subject is plural because "24 hours" is plural. However, when "24 hours" is the subject, it takes a singular verb. So much for the simple beautiful logic (or beautiful logical simplicity) of the English language. –  n.m. Aug 30 '13 at 19:32

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