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Is the verb agreement correct in this sentence (... is real and not ...are real)?

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I think in this case "what he sees" is a group noun.

A noun that denotes a collection of persons or things regarded as a unit.

"A unit" means singular, therefore "is" is in agreement and "are" would not be.

The phrase "in the TV and movies" does denote plurality, but it is just an adjective phrase modifying the singular noun group "what he sees". Subject and verb agreement is between the noun (group) and the verb, not the modifying adjectives.

I am not a very skilled grammarian, so I think my terminology is off, but I think I have the crux of it right.

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  • Yes - 'what he sees' etc will take singular or plural agreement depending on context. Often it's obvious: 'What I see here are different meanings' // 'What I see here is pure unadultarated beauracratic harrassment'. 'What I watch on TV are films and documentaries' is fine, but 'What I watch on TV – films and documentaries – is worth the licence fee' treats the whole of 'what I watch' as unitary. As you say. Oct 23, 2013 at 22:10
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    I think you've got it. I just want to also point out that instead of in the TV and movies I would normally expect to hear (or say) on TV and in the movies.
    – Hellion
    Oct 23, 2013 at 22:11

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