There are 4 students and 2 textbooks, so each two students share one textbook. Is it share or shares here? My apologies for this easy question, but please let me double check.

  • plural -------- – Greg Lee Sep 25 '19 at 3:11
  • The subject noun is "two", so the verb must be plural. I question your choice of "each", though. A commoner way to say it in English is "Every two students share". – Rosie F Sep 25 '19 at 6:05
  • Thanks for your explanation, but I made the toy example to review my understanding. If it should be "every" as "two students" are plural, then should I also avoid "each sunglasses" or "each scissors" for the same reason as well? "There are 4 papers and 2 scissors, so each scissors cut 2 papers," for example. Though it seems it's cut rather than cuts, is it every scissors rather than each scissors? – Junyong Kim Sep 25 '19 at 16:16

"Each" is always singular, therefore the grammatically correct sentence is "each two students shares one textbook."

This becomes obvious if you replace "two" with its synonym "pair of": "each pair of students share" is clearly incorrect.

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    -1 This is wrong because the subject is plural (even though the choice of "each" rather than "every" is not idiomatic). Your argument involving "pair of" is misleading and bogus because a pair is a single thing (even though it contains two items). – Rosie F Sep 25 '19 at 6:07
  • Stepping back, I realize now that the use of "each" here is not idiomatic. As you say, "every" is better; but I guess ditching each/every and going with "Two students share one textbook" would be better still. All the same, though, "each" and "every" indicate a singular subject, so I don't consider my "pair of" argument to be bogus. Just as a pair is a single thing, so is "each" and "every." – chigusa Sep 25 '19 at 6:50
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    How in the world can students ever be singular? – tchrist Sep 25 '19 at 12:33
  • I am not asserting that students can be singular. But if students is used with a collective noun, then there can be no grammar-based objection to using the third person singular verb with it, e.g., "There's a couple of students in the lounge", "There's a dozen students on the team." – chigusa Sep 27 '19 at 7:08

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