Sign up ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Which is proper?

The method will be fired after the specified duration of seconds has passed.


The method will be fired after the specified duration of seconds have passed.

share|improve this question

5 Answers 5

up vote 5 down vote accepted

A duration has passed, but seconds have passed. In the phrase "a duration of seconds", the noun is "duration", so the correct verb is has.

share|improve this answer

"Has passed" is grammatically correct, but sounds unnatural to me. I would prefer.

The method will be fired after the specified number of seconds has passed.

The user is not actually specifying a duration, but a number which is interpreted as a duration.

share|improve this answer

The subject of the sentence is duration, not seconds, so the verb has to be conjugated with it (has passed)

share|improve this answer

As an alternative, this formulation would be correct, too.

The method will be fired after the specified time has passed.

share|improve this answer

The rule of "Error of Proximity" in Agreement of Subject with the verb applies here. The subject is 'duration' and not 'seconds' although the latter is placed closer to the verb in the sentence. As a singular subject takes a singular verb, 'has' will be a correctly used verb here, for the singular subject 'duration'. In other words, 'duration has' while 'seconds have' would be correct.

share|improve this answer
Include links to sources/references – Tushar Raj May 2 at 11:40
I couldn't have said it any more obscurely myself! – Hot Licks May 2 at 14:00
I will try to expand my explanation.The Errors due to Proximity state that there is an erroneous tendency among students to make the verb agree in number with a noun near it,instead of its proper subject.When one is confused, ,one must make sure of the Subject of the verb. – Barnali Bose May 3 at 6:36

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.