Over on meta.stackoverflow.com, a question was raised regarding the syntax of this sentence "This is what 51,000 people looks like." To me this sounds correct. My answer on the meta question may not be right, but I swear there's a rule (or set of rules) regarding this.
In case anything gets deleted -
If you follow the link: Ten. Million. Questions. Let's celebrate all we've done together, you get to the page that says:
This is what 51,000 people looks like.
The word "people" here is not used in the singular sense, and furthermore, it is preceded by a numeral, so it must be plural. The verb "looks" should be "look".
The subject of the verb (
looks) is not always the noun closest to it (
people). I'm not an English expert, but I believe the subject of this sentence is the word
this. In other words, replacing the middle part (is that a clause?) with
is what thatit becomes:
This is what that looks like.
Correct as it's written, I believe. Perhaps a good question for english.stackexchange.com!
Is a sentence like "This is what 51,000 people looks like" grammatically valid? If so, what are the rules around this?