English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Is 'keep' or 'keeps' the right word to use in the sentence below:

The documentary we are watching irritates me because the narrator keeps trying to force his opinion down our throats.

The subject of the verb 'keeps' is 'narrator', and it is singular, so 'keeps' seems the right choice.

The sentence is from http://www.ccc.commnet.edu/sensen/part1/two/writing.html

share|improve this question

closed as general reference by Roaring Fish, Jasper Loy, Kris, tchrist, MετάEd Dec 29 '12 at 17:14

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Yes, it's keeps: why should it be keep? [I can think of one uncommon construction where keep might be correct, but this isn't it] – Andrew Leach Dec 29 '12 at 12:21
the word 'keep' was used in the sentence where I read, so I posted this to get clarification. Post your comment as an answer, and I will accept it. (Ref: ccc.commnet.edu/sensen/part1/two/writing.html) – Alex Dec 29 '12 at 12:46
That use of "keep" is grammatically incorrect. It appears to be a typo. Sorry about that, but you can't always trust what you see with your own eyes. Sometimes what is you see is unbelievable, as in this case. – user21497 Dec 29 '12 at 13:00
This is frivolous. The editor's correction (at the reference cited) of "kept" to "keep" is to convey that the present tense is to substituted for the past. It is not to be taken in toto. – Kris Dec 29 '12 at 14:33
The citation should be in the question, not in a comment. Comments are temporary. Please edit your question to show all the necessary context. – MετάEd Dec 29 '12 at 17:14
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Yes, it’s keeps, as you have reasoned in the question.

Your source is not correct:

In history class yesterday today, I got 'm getting mad. The videotape we were are watching irritated irritates me because the narrator kept keep trying to force his opinion down our throats . . .

I'm tempted to believe this is a simple typographical error where a single letter has been mistakenly omitted. It may not be deliberate.

To use keep might be held to be correct if the sentence were in what is commonly called the “subjunctive mood”:

If the narrator keep doing that, I shall get mad

...but that is so archaic and awkward that it is almost perverse. To use “If he were to keep doing that” is not much better, and even there If he keeps is to be preferred.

share|improve this answer
This is the second question in two days where someone was trying to argue that an if clause should or would or might take the present subjunctive / modally marked / bare infinitive form in contemporary English, not in the the English of 2 or 4 or 6 hundred years ago. I wonder where this is coming from? – tchrist Dec 29 '12 at 14:39
@tchrist Am I arguing for that? I don't think so. – Andrew Leach Dec 29 '12 at 14:45
No, please please do not misunderstand me. Of course you are not. It just reminded me of it, is all. – tchrist Dec 29 '12 at 15:16

Keeps is correct. The reference material from commnet.edu is incorrect.

share|improve this answer
re: commnet.edu see my comment above. – Kris Dec 29 '12 at 14:33

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