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What's correct?

"The fact that he wears a hat, and recent observations of him in red boots, suggest to me that he has a sense of fashion."

OR

"The fact that he wears a hat, and recent observations of him in red boots, suggests to me that he has a sense of fashion."

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Both are grammatical and correct. See my comment @Cerberus below. –  Kris Jan 20 at 13:29
    
Is your example -- "The fact that he wears a hat, and recent observations of him in red boots, suggest(s) to me that he has a sense of fashion." -- grammatical? –  F.E. Jan 20 at 19:32
    
@F.E. See my comment above. –  Kris Jan 22 at 5:31

3 Answers 3

by stripping off the decoration, the main structure of the sentence is The fact suggests to me that he has a sense of fashion. as "fact" is singular, you need to suffix s after verb suggest

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Traditionally, it would have to be suggests, because the parenthesis (part between commas) does not count towards the plural. But I'm sure many people will agree that suggest is also fine, because one "thinks" of something plural when parsing the sentence.

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Cerberus, the sentence with (and without) the comma has different structures: wears a hat, and. If the comma were a parenthetical opening comma, the singular holds; if it's merely a list comma, though occurring before and, then the plural is required. Oops, this sounds to me more like an answer than a comment :) –  Kris Jan 20 at 13:28
1  
@Kris: If it were a tripartite enumeration, or a bipartite enumeration without a conjunction, then, yes, it would have to be 100 % plural even with a comma after the first part. However, this is clearly not such an enumeration. You can also see that it isn't by looking at the comma that concludes the parenthesis, which would never be used after an enumeration as above. So what you said doesn't really apply to the sentence given... –  Cerberus Jan 20 at 17:19
    
I think you should set aside that thought of the parenthetical for a moment and look afresh at the sentence. I may be wrong, though. –  Kris Jan 21 at 5:50
1  
@Kris: I'm afraid I cannot do that! –  Cerberus Jan 21 at 12:51

The fact that he wears a hat, and recent observations of him in red boots, suggest to me that he has a sense of fashion.

The phrasing and construction of this sentence is familiar to me. If you've encountered the sentence on a quiz or such, know that the writers of these assessments often use:

[Singular 3rd person subject] [long parenthetical set off by a pair of commas, but often ending in PLURAL] [present tense third-person SINGULAR verb].

It sounds like a "gotcha" question to me. If someone has gone to all of this trouble to write (or purchase) a test item like this one, you can bet that the answer is going to be corrects. Fact and the single verb suggests couldn't be considered wrong: Fact … suggest … that?

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