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I've gotten into an argument about whether "Most of what I've read is books" or "Most of what I've read are books" is correct. I think it should be "is" because "most of" refers to "what I've read" which is singular but my friend insists it should be "are" because "most of" refers to "books" which is plural.

  • Maybe you might find the answer in previous questions – SrJoven Sep 11 '14 at 2:38
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    Most of is another premodifier. It acts as an adjective or a determiner that precedes a noun in that it does not itself carry number. The verb agrees with the head noun: Most of my friends are coming versus Most of your problem is gone. See also english.stackexchange.com/a/194705. – tchrist Sep 11 '14 at 2:52
  • The 'What I hate / like / see ...' construction often takes a singular form of be even with a plural noun: 'What I hate is people who exploit other people ...' (one of many examples on the internet) in at least informal contexts. If the apparent mismatch (cf 'It's us') is considered inappropriate in formal registers, a work-around such as Eric suggests can be used. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 11 '14 at 6:36
  • Same as what you would use with 'what;' just try not to be distracted by 'most.' HTH. – Kris Sep 11 '14 at 7:47
  • Parts of this question as well as some of the comments have excellent merit. (Thanks to George du Maurier, 1895) – Kris Sep 11 '14 at 7:49
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Maybe you can simply change the construction: Books are what I've most read, or, I've read more books than anything else, or, I've read mostly books. In your example, books ARE what you have read most, so I would agree that in diagrammatic reasoning most of what you've read ARE books. Of all of the various materials I've read, most ARE books. Therefore, because MOST refers to books, and BOOKS is a plural noun, I'm sorry to say that your friend is correct.

  • -1 Hoodwinking is not a solution :) Moreover, "Books are what I've most read" still poses the same question, in an indirect way. The OP's question is simple: what goes with 'most,' singular or plural? Although, the question itself maybe untenable. – Kris Sep 11 '14 at 7:34
  • Your answer is fine. I don't see where the hoodwinking is, frankly. – Mari-Lou A Sep 11 '14 at 8:34

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