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I was recently reading something online and found this sentence:

The soundtrack, not the vocals, are good.

To me it seems that instead of are good, it should say is good, since the subject of the sentence is the soundtrack (Which is singular). However, now when I look at the sentence again with the is, it just doesn't seem right. (Since the is does not seem to match the plural vocals)

Which word is correct in this context? is or are?

  • when you use IS, it may feel somewhat wrong because phrase before is is a plural (Vocals). Otherwise I think is should be the word – Vishwa Feb 13 '18 at 12:24
  • @Vishwa That is exactly the reasoning that I have. So is is correct? – Arnav Borborah Feb 13 '18 at 12:26
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    In such a short sentence, the proximity rule prevails, i.e. it sounds most natural for the verb to agree with the closest noun. – choster Feb 13 '18 at 15:02
  • @choster That is exactly what I'm looking for (You may add it as an answer and I will mark it correct). But one more question. If the subjects were switched, would this rule still apply? In other words, is the sentence "The vocals, not the soundtrack, is good" correct? – Arnav Borborah Feb 13 '18 at 15:10
  • I commented rather than answered as I assumed that the rule was already covered in a previous question. The the closest I have found, however, is tchrist's answer in a question about either/or, which is not a straight-up duplicate. There is also Ben Kovitz's answer at our sister site for English Language Learers. If no one else chimes in I will add an answer. – choster Feb 13 '18 at 15:26

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