I understand that, without the parentheses, the correct form would be "one or more things". However, if one wants to make "(or many!)" a parenthetical remark, should that affect the agreement of the noun? The latter form "one (or many!) things" seems correct when read out loud, but the structure "one (...) things" seems strange to the eye.

Alternatively, would "one thing (or many!)" be an appropriate way to escape from this situation?


I think the best way to approach your sentence would be to avoid putting the parenthesis in the middle of the sentence. Your alternative seems to me, to be the best way to write it.

  • Hello and welcome to EL&U. You might want to add some observations about 'proper' agreement vs proximity agreement, or written parentheticals vs the same words read out. Both pairs help explain the difficulty with choosing singular or plural agreement in the original quote. Including such discussions in your answer helps the OP and future visitors to this question by moving from 'just' opinion to an exploration of the underlying issues. – Lawrence Feb 20 '18 at 16:58

I think "one thing (or many!)" would be the best here. Alternatively, when in a similar situation I will so something like "Thing(s)" to signify that there can be more than one.

I don't know the full sentence but maybe try this technique and replace the "thing" with what you actually mean.

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