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?

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    The most amazing things were the people... Commented Mar 12, 2015 at 2:15
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    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. Commented Mar 12, 2015 at 3:42
  • I cannot upvote you guys so I'll just say thank you.
    – nitsuka
    Commented Mar 12, 2015 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. Commented Mar 14, 2015 at 14:24

1 Answer 1


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.

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    Thank you for your comment. As you noted, this is not a subjunctive sentence. Just plain old simple past.
    – nitsuka
    Commented Mar 12, 2015 at 4:59

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