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Then, as I continued gazing at her, something came to my mind. They were the remnants of the dream I had before waking up.

Is that grammatically correct? If not, what's the closest alternative?

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Yes. That plural is also an object that can be treated as a singular object, as long as the discrete nature of each is not the focus. However, not as in the two sentences in the example. Drop the phrase They were, and there you are. – Kris Feb 2 '14 at 13:51
@Kris: I don't think OP is asking whether the remnants has to be treated as singular or plural (it can be either, depending on context). His highlighting (and question title) indicate he's asking whether something can be treated as plural. – FumbleFingers Feb 2 '14 at 14:44
up vote 4 down vote accepted

No, it's not correct. If OP wants to use singular something in the first sentence, this must be referenced by a singular form in the second.

Here are a number of written instances of it is the remnants, which I think show that in the right context there's nothing inherently wrong with treating the remnants as a singular noun.

But in OP's context this is unnecessary, To avoid potential accusations of "clumsiness", I would either adopt Kris's suggestion (just drop they were completely), or change singular something to a more suitable plural (such as some thoughts or ideas).

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+1 You are right, looking at it that way. – Kris Feb 2 '14 at 15:01
@Kris: On the grammar front, yes. But I think the suggestion in your comment would probably far more useful to OP, even though it's really writing advice (I didn't upvote the comment because I either misunderstood or disagreed with the first part, but I certainly endorse the final point). – FumbleFingers Feb 2 '14 at 16:54

"Then, as I continued gazing at her, the remnants of the dream I had before waking up came to my mind."

It seems odd to me to use the abstraction "something" and then immediately explain clearly what the something was/is. But that is a stylistic point, really. However, avoiding the use of "something" removes the problem of agreement in number with "remnants".

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