I have the following question:

The majority of fund studies has or have agreed that a common attribute for superior performance is due to managers' skill.

  • "The majority of" is usually used to modify a following noun. The main verb of the sentence agrees with that noun. Here, that noun is the plural "studies," so you should use the plural verb form "have." – herisson Sep 13 '15 at 22:48
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    It's likely that you do not intend to convey that there is an unstated attribute that is a good predictor of superior performance and that attribute comes into being because of manager skill. Rather I think you mean that a variable present in a significant portion of the group exhibiting superior performance is highly skilled managers. – Jim Sep 14 '15 at 0:16

Like the words some and most, a premodifying phrase like the majority of is in and of itself neither singular nor plural. It has no number.

The noun it is modifying continues to function as the subject for purposes of agreement with the verb. This allows then for both possibilities:

  1. (The majority of) the water is safe to drink.
  2. (The majority of) the bottles are safe to drink.

Notice how adding the majority of doesn’t change anything in those two examples.

Therefore because studies is plural, so too is the majority of studies:

The majority of fund studies have agreed that a common attribute for superior performance is due to managers’ skill.

That’s because it just means most fund studies; the number does not change.

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    Clearly what happens when applied to a singular noun is not a lot – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 14 '15 at 1:38
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    @Mynamite Yes, certainly that is just fine. – tchrist Sep 14 '15 at 11:38
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    Can you quote an authority for that? I'm afraid I disagree, and so do several other people on this site link1, link2 – Mynamite Sep 14 '15 at 12:28
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    "Majority" means "greatest number" so "the majority of water" does not make sense. – Weather Vane Jun 14 '17 at 13:24
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    @WeatherVane: No, "majority" often is understood to mean "more than half" specifically, not just "the greatest number of", which is why the word plurality is used by some people to refer to a greatest number that is not more than half of the whole. If "majority" is understood as meaning "more than half," "the majority of the water" makes sense. – herisson Jun 14 '17 at 20:26

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