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Slight movements in the resonant peak are attributed to the changes in the refractive index.

I know that normally, are is correct since movements is in plural, but I wonder if I can use is instead? (with movements) The reason I ask is that I kind of prefer saying is, since I want to refer to the (event of) movements happening, which would be singular, but I don't know if this is grammatically acceptable, or if this is done in practice as an option.

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    I personally would find "movements ... is" very awkward. I don't recommend it. – Dan Bron Dec 17 '15 at 19:02
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    What an unusual (and, if I may say so, self-inflicted) dilemma. Why don't you therefore start by saying The event of ....is...? – WS2 Dec 17 '15 at 19:08
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    No, but instead of "movements", you can refer to "variation", which will give you the singular you long for. – Greg Lee Dec 17 '15 at 19:15
  • I want to refer to the (event of) movements happening, which would be singular. The participle "happening" is not specifically singular or plural, so (a) your problem is not clear, and (b) you can resolve it with a simple recast. But whatever you decide, you cannot break the subject / verb agreement rule, and be considered correct. – Cargill Dec 17 '15 at 19:42
  • I think this is an English Language Learners-level question. Singular movement is quite acceptable even if it refers to multiple separate "movements". – FumbleFingers Dec 17 '15 at 19:55
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You cannot make movements singular by force of preference, but you could substitute a singular noun that means the same thing. Such as

Slight variation/oscillation/deflection in the resonant peak is attributed to the changes in the refractive index.

or whatever is appropriate to describe the movements.

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No, it's not possible; at least not the way it's written.

You could, however, recast it something like: "The detection of slight movements in the resonant peak is attributed to the changes in the refractive index".

  • I don't want to get into the philosophy of science here, but might this not imply that the changes in the RI affect the detection and not the actual movements? Or is it just me? – deadrat Dec 17 '15 at 22:38

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