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Is it okay to say

Their aim is to find which element(s) of the input has(ve) the genuine impact on the output.

My question is concerned with the plural of element(s) and has(ve).

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  • 2
    'Their aim is to find which input elements have the genuine output impact.' seems clearer to me.
    – Nigel J
    Oct 11, 2017 at 15:34
  • I'd use "Their aim is to find which element/s of the input has/have the genuine impact on the output." if forced to. Oct 11, 2017 at 16:50
  • So what is your question? Are you asking how to deal with the different verb forms required by your optional pluralisation of the subject?
    – Andrew Leach
    Oct 11, 2017 at 17:07
  • If so, this would appear to be a duplicate.
    – Andrew Leach
    Oct 11, 2017 at 17:08
  • Nigel J is right. It is ludicrously bad style to write things like "(s)". I hope this isn't for any kind of serious writing. If you just use the plural, the reader will surely be intelligent enough to understand that it might turn out that only one element has genuine impact. If you truly insist, just write something like "which element or elements of the input have". Don't pollute your essay with ugly, unpronounceable parenthetical nonsense.
    – rjpond
    Oct 11, 2017 at 18:47

2 Answers 2

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For clarity, I would suggest :

Their aim is to find which element/s of the input has/have the genuine impact on the output.

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  • But this is now writing advice. OP asks a genuine question; you give a workaround, which, although eminently sensible, leaves OP's question unanswered. Oct 11, 2017 at 16:48
  • @EdwinAshworth I shall edit that out, then.
    – Nigel J
    Oct 11, 2017 at 16:49
  • OP is asking about the rules surrounding the device of shortening say 'I need to find which person or persons did this' to 'I need to find which person/s did this', when further complications arise. Oct 11, 2017 at 16:59
  • @EdwinAshworth I misunderstood. Edited now.
    – Nigel J
    Oct 11, 2017 at 17:04
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"Their aim is to find which element(s) of the input has(ve) the genuine impact on the output "

1st. If there is more than one element, "elements" should be plural.

2nd. ...the input (3rd singular person) has the genuine...

I hope it helps.

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