1

If there is an uncountable noun, then a singular verb is used.

The equipment was stolen.

What if everybody in a team has some equipment and some of the equipment was stolen?

1a. The equipment of each team member was stolen.

sounds more right than

  1. The equipment of each team member were stolen.

What if only five team members had their equipment stolen?

2a. The equipment of five team members was stolen.

or

2b. The equipment of five team members were stolen.

Also, does it change if it becomes a countable noun instead of an uncountable noun?

3a. The towels of five team members was stolen.

as opposed to

3b. The towels of five team member were stolen.

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    The number of owners makes no difference. Equipment was stolen, towels were stolen. Sep 27, 2017 at 7:51

1 Answer 1

1

It is usually the head noun in the subject noun phrase that determines the agreement of the verb. In both of the examples below, the head noun is the uncountable noun equipment:

  • The equipment was stolen.
  • The equipment of each team member was stolen.
  • The equipment of five team members was stolen.

Because equipment is uncountable, the sentences will be ungrammatical with plural agreement:

  • *The equipment were stolen. (ungrammatical)
  • *The equipment of each team member were stolen. (ungrammatical)
  • *The equipment of five team members were stolen. (ungrammatical)

If we use a plural noun as the head, then we will see compulsory plural agreement:

  • The towels of five team members were stolen.
  • *The towels of five team members was stolen. (ungrammatical)
  • Five team members' towels were stolen.
  • *Five team members' towels was stolen. (ungrammatical)
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    Why is it "five team member's" rather than "five team members'"?
    – j1119
    Oct 1, 2017 at 3:28
  • @j1119 Sorry, that was a typo:) Oct 1, 2017 at 8:10

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