Could you explain to me which is correct?

  1. A younger generation of men follow . . .
  2. A younger generation of men follows . . .

Could you also explain why?

I was thinking that the bit that cannot be removed should be the one that determines whether the verb is singular or plural. The sentence would lose its sense without younger generation so does that mean that that is the bit to which follows must correspond?

  • It is generation that follows, not men, so the second option is correct. Leave out of men and you'll see what must agree in the sentence (by the way, leave it out unless absolutely required by the context). Going forward, please put more effort in your research. – Mykola Sep 25 '13 at 4:22
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    @Mykola: This ('grammatical concord' or 'formal agreement' as the sub-classification is termed) is only one of the accepted (by some schools) ways of treating this issue. See odlt.org/ballast/grammatical_concord.html and notice that the word "incorrectly" is used there in scare quotes - incorrectly according to some prescriptive pseudo-rules but not in the opinion of many modern grammarians. 'A younger generation of' is a compound quantifier. Barrie's answer is far more balanced (and I'd say acceptable to modern scholarship). Going forward, please put more effort in your research. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 25 '13 at 7:58
  • @EdwinAshworth: Absolutely agree with you. I will certainly try to put more effort, because it is only after reading Barrie's answer that I have gotten the notion of different agreement types, which kind of speaks volumes of the extent of my research. – Mykola Sep 25 '13 at 8:07
  • @Mykola: Here's a neat synopsis (and a plug): wordwizard.com/phpbb3/… . Though there is a rule of thumb that "Americans tend to follow the 'logical rule' (synesis) less than Brits", there is NO Grammar Czar saying that one MUST adopt a certain convention in any given location. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 25 '13 at 8:15
  • The issue has been raised in various ways in earlier posts -- so much so it should now be considered GR on ELU. – Kris Sep 28 '13 at 14:45

Follows shows formal agreement, follow shows notional and proximity agreement. The choice between the two depends on whether the speaker wants to emphasise generation as a unitary whole or as a collection of individuals.

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