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I've come across a sentence which says

"The CEO of many corporations is responsible to the board that hired him"

notice the bold-faced part. Why can't we use "are" here?

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Simply because the CEO is singular.

It would also be fine to say:

the CEOs of the companies are responsible...

It’s clear that each company has only one CEO.

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The CEO of many corporations - implies that, a single person is in charge of more than one corporation. If this is the case, then this sentence is fine. Otherwise, both the CEO (CEOs) and the to be verb would in plural (are).

  • While it could have that sense, I don't think that is the meaning used here. The original quote could be rewritten as "In many corporations, the CEO is responsible..." – where there is a 1-1 correspondence between CEOs and corporations. – TripeHound Apr 18 '18 at 15:27
  • @TripeHound I think, your guess is on point, however, can`t we say with the same meaning - CEOs of many corporations are responsible to the board that hired them ? Can the above-mentioned sentence be synonymous in meaning to this one - the CEO of many corporations is responsible to the board that hired him ? – Beqa Apr 18 '18 at 18:26
  • I think your first example would need to be "...to the boards that hired them" (which is basically David's answer). Otherwise, yes I think both are essentially the same. – TripeHound Apr 18 '18 at 18:47

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