5

Which one is correct? The way I see it, the subject is 'the thing' which is singular thus it should carry 'was', no matter what follows. However, there seems to be a lot of people who use 'were' instead. Is 'the people' the subject in this sentence?

  • 1
    The most amazing things were the people... – Ian MacDonald Mar 12 '15 at 2:15
  • 5
    Verbs agree with their subject. The subject is generally the noun phrase before the first auxiliary verb, except in special constructions like questions. The subject here is singular third person, so the verb is was. – John Lawler Mar 12 '15 at 3:42
  • I cannot upvote you guys so I'll just say thank you. – nitsuka Mar 12 '15 at 5:01
  • @Ian MacDonald The '[most amazing] thing' here is generalised; 'things' does not work. Compare 'It's us'. The subject outranks the complement in dictating the agreement of the verb. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 14 '15 at 14:24
2

Your point is right. The correct way is

The most amazing thing was the people who...

I tried to think about the other specific possibilities. Sometimes we use "were" in the case of the subjunctive mood, however, it is used after "if, as if, wish, suppose". Here is not that case except if it is like

(I wish) the most amazing thing were the people who...

"I wish" was not said, but meant.

  • 1
    Thank you for your comment. As you noted, this is not a subjunctive sentence. Just plain old simple past. – nitsuka Mar 12 '15 at 4:59

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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