If I am using the sentence, "Tools are a sound investment that result(s) in significant gains in productivity.", do I use result or results? I'm unsure if the verb "result(s)" is acting on the noun "investment" or the noun "tools".

  • This is similar to the following question, but it doesn't have an answer and was closed as a duplicate (wrongly, in my view): agreement and subordinate clauses – sumelic Jan 12 '18 at 21:04
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    Singular. Tools are a sound investment. They result in ... – Drew Jan 12 '18 at 21:22
  • @scohe001: Sorry, I meant plural. – Drew Jan 13 '18 at 0:14
  • Parallel flow requires all parts to be parallel. "Tools are great investments.<All parts plural>" or "Purchasing <singular gerund> tools <plural object of gerund> is <singular verb> a <singular article> sound investment." – HardScale Jan 13 '18 at 0:40
  • OMT: "Tools <plural> are <plural> a <singular>..." is the point of error. Of course, I'm being extremely technical; but, that's why we're here. – HardScale Jan 13 '18 at 0:42

I would use "result", because in my opinion it refers to the noun "tools".

But another suggestion I would like very much: "Tools are a sound investment resulting in significant gains in productivity"


The correct answer is "results", because its subject is "investment".

But if you want to say that tools result in gains (rather than speaking of an investment that results in gains), there are:

  • Drew's paraphrase "Tools are a sound investment. They result in..."
  • Tools are a sound investment, and result in...

Reduce the sentence to its essentials:

Tools [result/results] in gains.

The choice is plainly result:

Tools are a sound investment that result in significant gains in productivity.

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    That is not a correct reduction of the sentence. The subject of the verb "result(s)" is "investment". It is possible that Lucas meant "Tools that result in significant gains in productivity are a sound investment" and decided to postpose the clause "that...gains". But that would be an unusual word-order. Even in that case, yours is not a correct reduction; the correct reduction would be "Tools are a sound investment", and the reduction would not help answer lucas's question. – Rosie F Jan 12 '18 at 22:21
  • When you use an identity (is/are, etc) both parts must match in number. Tools are [both plural] a sound investment [singular]." is wrong, even before the preposition. – HardScale Jan 13 '18 at 1:00
  • @HardScale English is not as strict as that. True, the subject must match the verb. But it's OK if the subject and verb are plural and the complement is singular. Potatoes are a staple crop. Tools are a sound investment. It's OK to say it that way in English. – Rosie F Jan 13 '18 at 10:19

My comments became an answer. Yay!

"Tools are a sound investment that results in significant gains in productivity."

The error here is not in result or results, but the mismatched subject:

"A tool is a sound investment ..." "Tools are sound investments..."

With each of the above, it is clear from reading aloud which form of verb you would need. The former gets "...that results...," and the latter gets "...results..."

If you really want to have a singular subject you need to put them in a group: "A SET [singular] of tools [prep: plural contents of set] is [singular identity] a sound investment [singular descriptor] that results [singular verb] in significant gains in productivity."

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    There is nothing ungrammatical about using a singular predicative noun after a plural subject or vice versa. “A tool is a sound investment...", "Tools are sound investments..." and “Tools are a sound investment...” all have different meanings and are not interchangeable in all contexts. – sumelic Jan 13 '18 at 1:01
  • @sumelic Give me an example from a style guide of your choosing. My point isn't about that, necessarily, though. It is the source of confusion for the number of the subject, and the object of the preposition. – HardScale Jan 13 '18 at 1:03
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    See the examples here: "A verb does not agree with a subjective complement (predicate nominative). It agrees with the subject of the sentence. Coffee and dessert are the most enjoyable part of the meal. The most enjoyable part of the meal is coffee and dessert. Igor's favorite fruit is prunes. Prunes are Igor's favorite fruit." Instructional Systems Traditional English Grammar, J. Kline. I agree that your proposal is a way to work around the problem posed in the original question, and that seems helpful... – sumelic Jan 13 '18 at 1:18
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    I just object to the suggestion that "Tools are a sound investment..." contains an "error". That part of this answer seems mistaken to me. – sumelic Jan 13 '18 at 1:20

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