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Consider the following sentence:

Before we introduced the Frame to the building market we made sure that each trade that came in contact with it, from architects, bricklayers to the painters were happy with our product.

I am using trade here to mean a group of people employed in a particular occupation.

Is "each trade" the main subject of the clause with were?
Is "were" the proper verb form to use?

Thank you so much for your kind anwser!

2 Answers 2

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Yes, trade is the subject -- I'm not sure what a "main" subject is -- of the relative clause, which has were as its verb. Trade as a collective noun, might take a singular verb (as an entity) or a plural verb (as a representative of a numerous group). Your problem with the latter (i.e., the plural verb were) is the clash with each, meaning each one. You may easily solve this by switching to the plural of trade:

Before we introduced the Frame to the building market, we made sure that all trades that came in contact with it -- from architects to bricklayers to painters -- were happy with our product.

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  • Could you edit the question for clarity, if you know what it's asking. I found it a bit hard to understand and I'm actually interested in this question. Commented Oct 29, 2015 at 3:46
  • Meg, I have edited your question, both in wording and format, with what I'm afraid is a rather heavy hand. Please check to make sure that the changes don't extend to the meaning. It's important that my version still asks the questions you want answered. If it doesn't, you may and should reject the changes.
    – deadrat
    Commented Oct 29, 2015 at 4:04
  • @LeSunstrike Once I get going with the edit pen, I find it hard to stop. Is my version any clearer?
    – deadrat
    Commented Oct 29, 2015 at 4:06
  • That is perfect! Made this much clearer and compliments the answer more. Your edit pen is on fire! @deadrat Commented Oct 29, 2015 at 4:58
  • @LeSunstrike "complements" with an "e". Must ... stop ... editing ....
    – deadrat
    Commented Oct 29, 2015 at 5:11
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Is "each trade" the main subject of the clause with were?

"Each trade" is a subject of the subordinate (dependent) clause that starts with "that". It is not called a "main subject" as it belongs to a subordinate clause.

Is "were" the proper verb form to use?

No, you have to use "was" because "each" takes a singular verb. "Each" as a "determiner" cannot qualify a plural noun as explained in Wiktionary:

All; every; qualifying a singular noun, indicating all examples of the thing so named seen as individual or separate items (compare every).

It doesn't matter what trade means as a collective noun. Each can qualify only a singular noun and it takes only a singular verb.

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