What's correct here:

The body language of South Africans doesn't seem right.


The body language of South Africans don't seem right.

Please explain. Because the first one hears right. But grammar says for third person (plural) use don't.

  • Sounds like a choice between 'does not' and 'do not', which is a straightforward question of singular or plural. Since the 'body language of South Africans' is singular the correct form is doesn't sound right.
    – WS2
    Feb 22, 2015 at 18:35

4 Answers 4


This is probably confusing you because the subject is the body language (singular) of South Africans (plural). You should change it to "South African body language doesn't seem right".

  • I agree with Gabe. Feb 24, 2015 at 9:35
  • 3
    There is no object in the sentence. The body language of South Africans is the subject, not the object. Feb 24, 2015 at 13:28

Of South Africans is a prepositional phrase and is disregarded when conjugating the verb. The subject of the sentence is body language, which is singular. Therefore, doesn't is the correct choice.


I'm slightly confused here - are you under the impression that doesn't and don't are the same words?

They are themselves contractions of different conjugations of the same word.

DOESN'T is a contraction of DOES NOT.

DON'T is a contraction of DO NOT.

The reason that:

The body language of South Africans don't seem right.

'feels off' is because, at its base, what you're actually saying is:

The body language of South Africans do not seem right.

You need to match conjugation to subject. A singular third-party pronoun such as 'The body language' requires conjugation as such.

Does that help clear it up?


as far as I can see that the point (phrase - word order) of speaking is body language which is singular, not the Africans. Therefore, [doesn't] is used here.

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