So, I just read an article, and was confused by the sentence:

In the study we just described, we found evidence that people’s self-discerning reflections — musings on whether parts of their identity truly define who they are or merely reflect their cultural upbringing — are a critical ingredient in the relationship between living abroad and self-concept clarity."

Source: From How Living Abroad Helps You Develop a Clearer Sense of Self

I always thought that plural verb can't come with the articles 'a' and 'an', as they are incompatible (plural and singular). Well, there are some exceptions like, 'They are a bunch of students'. However, the 'a' in this case is describing one group; it's not a problem.

The quoted sentence is a grammatically correct sentence too, as I've checked on Grammarly. So, can anyone explain to me why is it correct?


1 Answer 1


A/an is indeed a singular article, and cannot precede a plural noun.

However, sometimes is connects a singular and a plural noun, in which case it agrees with the subject and not the complement.

The thing that I like is all the different influences that come together (singular subject, plural complement).

All the different influences that come together are what I like (plural subject, singular complement).

So the example you give is fine. Plural subject, singular complement, which therefore can take a.

  • You can follow a plural verb with an "a". For example: "You two are a pair."
    – tautophile
    May 31, 2018 at 19:20
  • Your comment is true, @tautophile, but completely useless. There is no rule in English that says that you can or cannot do that. The fact that you can is the consequence of several rules that apply at a higher level.
    – Colin Fine
    Jun 1, 2018 at 20:15

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