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It seems that people overwhelmingly prefer to write

Which type of nuts are the healthiest?

to

Which type of nuts is the healthiest?

However, type is singular, so why isn't is the correct choice?

Edit if you type these sentences with quotes into Google (phrase search), you'll see that the first one occurs about 3000 times on the web, and the second one basically never.

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  • Can you show some evidence of this overwhelming preference?
    – Jim
    Jun 9, 2019 at 6:45
  • @Jim see update
    – MWB
    Jun 9, 2019 at 7:44
  • Please add the link. Because I get 16 results and...
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 9, 2019 at 9:44
  • ... I get 33 results for "which type of nuts are" this appears to not support your claim.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 9, 2019 at 9:48
  • @Mari-LouA when I click on your first link, Google says "About 3,060 results (0.36 seconds)" but it only shows 1.5 pages of results. If I replace "are" with "is", there are no results aside from those linking this page. So 3,000 seems in error (by Google), but there are still more usages of the first version.
    – MWB
    Jun 9, 2019 at 11:59

1 Answer 1

1

You could always change the sentence so that it's not so confusing:

1. Which type of nut is the healthiest?
2. Which types of nut are the healthiest?

Note that nut remains singular in both cases, making subject-verb agreement easy. (It's when you use the plural nuts that things get awkward.)

3
  • The meaning is not preserved though. Suppose there are two types. I might want to know which type is the healthiest.
    – MWB
    Jun 9, 2019 at 5:40
  • Yes, I would probably go so far as to suggest that the phrase "type of nuts" , is not, in itself, idiomatic. One is speaking of a collective - like "breed of dog, species of ant, etc." "Which type of nut is..." is the obvious route to go.
    – WS2
    Jun 9, 2019 at 7:58
  • @MaxB If there are two types, that's why types is plural. (You actually pluralized it in your own sentence.) The of X is extraneous to the actual subject, which is type or types. There is one type. There are two types. Jun 9, 2019 at 13:06

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