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Is it “5-6 weeks are a lot of time” or “5-6 weeks is a lot of time”?

I am writing about a baseball player who has 33 at-bats in his career.

Which is correct:

Yes, 33 career at-bats qualifies/qualify as a small sample size.

My guess is that it should be qualify because at-bats is the subject, but it sounds odd.

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The subject is 33 career at-bats - which is plural, so qualify is the correct verb form. But people will often use singular qualifies in a context like this, where that number of "at-bats" is alternatively described as (singular) "a small sample size". –  FumbleFingers Jun 18 '12 at 17:20
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A similar question: 5 weeks is vs 5 weeks are –  J.R. Jun 18 '12 at 17:24
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marked as duplicate by FumbleFingers, JeffSahol, simchona, kiamlaluno, Daniel Jun 27 '12 at 23:02

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2 Answers

The argument could be made that there's an implicit 'having' in the sentence:

Yes, [having] 33 career at-bats qualifies as a small sample size.

If you buy this argument, then the implicit 'having' is the gerund subject, and the verb for this gerund subject should be in singular form.

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qualifies. the noun is "33 career at-bats" which is singular.

If the subject were "33 at-bats in one's career," it would be "qualify"

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