This looks correct to me:

The people James is concerned about

This is what the spell checker is suggesting:

The people James are concerned about?


  • I'm Australian writing and speaking a dialect of British English
  • My spell checker is in Microsoft Word, and claims to be using Australian English, but generally gives advice in American English

My question is: Which is correct? "The people James is concerned about" vs "The people James are concerned about"?

  • No computer grammar checker is infallible. In particular, Word's grammar checker is known to get confused by proper names. Try replacing "James" with "he" and see what happens. (That said, my version of Word doesn't suggest "are". If I write "are", it doesn't always correct it, but it never actually suggests it.) – Marthaª Dec 5 '15 at 3:48
  • Could you include the rest of your sentence? The people James is concerned about, is not complete. – michael_timofeev Dec 5 '15 at 7:53

"The people James is concerned about" is another way of saying, "James is concerned about the people," and therefore is correct. If "people" were the subject and the situation was reversed, then we would say "The people are concerned about James."

The algorithm used by Microsoft Word is probably not sufficiently context-savvy to recognize that the name "James" is singular and therefore requires a singular verb.

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The people James is concerned about is correct, as James is the subject, and it will take a singular verb form.

Also, it is an incomplete sentence. Maybe Microsoft Word is taking this part as a complete sentence and hence, suggesting you the change.

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