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I am not sure if the singular or plural forms should be used in the following. Some people go for the plural, but it doesn't seem to have a plural antecedent.

Each month, the school holds a party. This event is / These events are/ successful because it attracts / they attract over two hundred students.

I'd appreciate your help.

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Here's your quote:

Each month, the school holds a party. This event is / These events are/ successful because it attracts / they attract over two hundred students.

The issue is to determine what the subject of the second sentence (this event / these events) refers to.

The supplied context neither identifies a specific party nor constrains the interpretation to a (single) generic party. There is no singular party to use for numerical agreement.

It would be natural for the subject of the second sentence to refer to the set of monthly parties (plural).

Each month, the school holds a party. These events are successful because they attract over two hundred students.

This holds regardless of the frequency of the parties. They could be a thousand years apart, and the natural reading would still be for plural agreement.

  • The word party is singular in the first sentence (a party). It's perfectly natural to use this event because the word is singular in the first sentence. I certainly would not say "Each month, the school holds a party. They are successful because ..." – Peter Shor Apr 5 '17 at 12:28
  • @PeterShor Hmm, you may have a point there. Perhaps it's dependent on the writer's perspective. If they are referring to the series of parties, use plural agreement. If they are referring to the concept, use singular agreement. Nevertheless, if someone says "Each month, the school holds a party. It is successful because ...", I'd take it to refer more naturally to the school than to the party/parties. – Lawrence Apr 5 '17 at 12:41
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I'm not quite certain there's actually a rule for this. Relying solely on my intuition, I would say that the frequency of the event is the deal breaker. Here's how:

Each month, the school holds a party. These events are invariably successful as they seem to attract over two hundred students almost every time.

Now if you changed "each month" to "every other century," you'd probably have to use "this event" instead.

  • What if the sentence is "This event is successful as it attracts over two hundred students every single month"? With "every single month," would you use the singular subject "This event"? – Apollyon Apr 3 '17 at 7:11
  • Also, what if the singular subject is modified by "monthly"? "This monthly event is successful as it attracts..." Would you find this more acceptable in the singular? – Apollyon Apr 3 '17 at 7:15
  • @Apollyon: Sure. Stands to reason. – Ricky Apr 3 '17 at 8:02

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