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I can't quite figure out which of the following forms is correct:

These sorts of things are ...
This sort of things is ...
This sort of thing is ...
< some other option >

So, what's the right choice?

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5  
Quoting a linguist's answer to a related question, "It seems that, in phrases like 'type(s) of X' ('kind(s) of X', etc.), there is generally number concord between the type-word and the class itself. Why that is, I don't know." –  RegDwigнt Mar 16 '11 at 22:26
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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Depending on the thing(s) in question, it's either

This sort of thing is...

or

These sorts of things are...

You need (pro)noun/verb plural agreement.

Samples:

Yesterday I slipped on the ice. Today I slipped on a sliver of soap. This sort of thing is always happening to me.

Last week I needed stitches from a shaving accident. Yesterday I slipped on the ice. Today I got hit by a car. These sorts of things are always happening to me.

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I would say "These sort of things are..." –  Orbling Mar 17 '11 at 0:39
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@Orbling: then that would sound wrong to a lot of people. 'These sorts...' or 'This sort', not 'this sorts' or 'these sort'. –  Mitch Mar 17 '11 at 0:47
    
@Mitch Sentences with multiple plural parts in them usually sound wrong. –  Orbling Mar 17 '11 at 1:02
    
@Orbling: 'These' is plural, 'sort' is singular. I would think however wrong multiple plural words sound, to mix up plural and singular especially where it's grammatically incongruent would sound that much worse. –  Mitch Mar 17 '11 at 2:01
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@Orbling, would you say "these type of chickens"? That sounds horribly horribly wrong to me. I would always say "These types of" for multiple types, or "This type of" for a single type. And the same holds for other words in that position. –  Hellion Mar 17 '11 at 2:07
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Both of these work and are idiomatically proper in English:

These sorts of things are ...
This sort of thing is ...

"This sort of things is ..." doesn't follow the typical idiom.
"sort of things" and "sorts of thing" are both unusual and probably better avoided.

As @Hellion's examples show, the choice of the workable phrase will be roughly determined by the number of the things in question.

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