Quick question: "It does not fly, but hop" or "It does not fly, but hops". I'm certain, it is the first one, my teacher claims, the second one is correct. Which one is correct and why?

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    Your teacher is overly close-minded. Both versions are perfectly grammatical (and idiomatic, imho). It just depends on whether we assume but [verb] is shorthand for but it does hop or but it hops. You pays your money and you takes your choice, as they say. A stylistic choice. Oct 24, 2016 at 13:53
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    This is your source. It's called ELU. Use it as your reference.
    – RegDwigнt
    Oct 24, 2016 at 14:03
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    To add further confusion, though, personally I wouldn't use either version. I'd say "It doesn't fly but it hops". With a second it.
    – RegDwigнt
    Oct 24, 2016 at 14:04
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    @FumbleFingers Strange really. In the example hops sounds the more natural. But If you say It does not so much fly as hop, then I prefer hop to hops.
    – WS2
    Oct 24, 2016 at 14:32
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    @Unrelated: I don't deny there might be structurally similar utterances where but can reasonably be used in a negating assertion with the meaning except. But I don't find your example idiomatic - I'd expect I eat no meat but steak there. Oct 24, 2016 at 15:07

2 Answers 2


It is also worth adding to what FumbleFingers has just said that the reason your teacher does not like the first option (if indeed it is an option!) is probably due to how it sounds with regards conventions of pluralisation. Just think about this sentence, "They do not fly, but hop". It sounds correct because the 'hop' tells the reader that the subject of the sentence is a group of things and not just one thing. It is the same principle as the difference between "She is an engineer and loves her job" and "She is an engineer and love her job". You probably wouldn't want to argue that 'love her job' is shorthand for 'she does love her job'; it does not sound correct.

There's also something to be said here for emphasis. By adding the proposed shorthand 'but it does hop', it seems like the author is making the point that the object (an animal I presume) is not all that disadvantaged in its mobility. By removing the 'does' the emphasis is no longer present. This is not taken care of with the replacement of 'hops' but the point I'm making is that if you are wanting to emphasise then it makes sense to use 'does' and not 'hop' unaccompanied by its emphasising partner.

Whilst I agree with FumbleFingers that it is overly close-minded to restrict language in this way, I assume that you are wanting to understand conventions and it is not, as far as I know, conventional to say that 'but hop' is shorthand for 'but it does hop'. I believe your teacher is referring to this distinction. Generally, 'shorthands' have to be learnt through experience and cannot be assumed logically.

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    “She is an engineer and love her job” is an entirely different construction. You can infer implicit, repeated auxiliaries, but not ones that have not already appeared in the sentence, and there is no ‘does’ in “She is an engineer”. You could say “She is an engineer and fond of her job” and then infer an implicit ‘is’. A more natural-sounding example that parallels the one in the question could be “He didn't shoot, but stab, his wife”. As WS2 mentions, if you add “so much… as”, the preference for infinitives grows: “He didn't so much dance as hop around aimlessly”. Oct 24, 2016 at 15:22
  • The sentence could be "She does not like art but love engineering" and my argument would continue to stand. To be clear, my point was simply adding to @FumbleFingers's, which is to say that it is a matter of convention whether or not to imply the missing verb. For example, convention tells us that "It does not fly but it hops more than I" is fine but it should contain an additional 'do'. It could just as easily be any verb for it to be grammatically correct but we'd have to specify which one for it to feel right, precisely because we expect 'do'. Oct 24, 2016 at 16:10

The second one is correct.

The reason is with subject-verb agreement. The subject and verb must agree in number, tense, and .

The subject is "it", which is singular. Hop is the plural form, while hops is singular.

While there are many exceptions, plural verbs do not have an "s" ending "and adding an s to a verb makes the verb singular.

"Watching the bunnies hop, the child hops also."

Subject-verb agreement in the Online Writing Support section of Towson University

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    This has nothing to do with agreement. “It doesn't fly but hop” has one finite verb (does) and two infinitives (fly and hop); while “It doesn't fly but hops” has two finite verbs (does and hops) and one infinitive (fly). They're simply different grammatical constructions, both valid, and both adhering to subject-verb agreement as they should. Oct 24, 2016 at 15:15

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