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I came across the following sentence in a publication: "The main source of knowledge are natural language texts."

Shouldn't it be "The main source of knowledge is natural language texts."? Or maybe it can be re-written as "Natural language texts are the main source of knowledge."?

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    The sentence appears like a bad translation from some language.
    – Sankarane
    Aug 22, 2015 at 16:41
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    Hello, Habiba. Yes: the verb should agree with the subject rather than object or complement. But this has been covered here on ELU before. Aug 22, 2015 at 16:41

2 Answers 2

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We could also say: "The main source of knowledge are natural language texts".

Er, no. "The main source" is definitely singular (it even announces itself as such), so needs a singular verb.

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  • From ecenglish.com/learnenglish: In more formal writing, "what concerns me are my results in English" is used; however, in spoken English "what concerns me is my results in English" is more common. That's why it's confusing: both forms are acceptable. My comment: also "what concerns me" is definitely singular ... and of course formal and spoken English are different.
    – alsa
    Aug 23, 2015 at 13:08
  • I think we must also take into consideration that "The main source of knowledge" does not really make much sense. It should really be "The main sources of knowledge", which would make the rest much easier.
    – alsa
    Aug 23, 2015 at 13:57
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I would definitely prefer "Natural language texts are the main source of knowledge". But, if that is correct, I am sure we could also say "The main source of knowledge are natural language texts."

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