Why do we use the Verb without 's' after 'that' in this case? I've met this one in discord's description.

Discord is the easiest way to communicate over voice, video, and text, whether you’re part of a school club, a nightly gaming group, a worldwide art community, or just a handful of friends that want to hang out.

In my language, in such cases 'that' becomes a subject, so I'd write '...that wants to...'

  • 4
    Because "friends" is plural. A handful of "friends who want to hang out."
    – Centaurus
    Commented Mar 26, 2020 at 13:14
  • 3
    What happens in other languages stays in other languages. That here refers to friends which is plural. Commented Mar 26, 2020 at 13:15
  • 3
    In such cases, that becomes a subject in English, too. But it's a relative pronoun (equivalent to who in this case), and relative pronouns are variable because they refer to the noun they modify. In this case, that's friends, which is plural. The relative pronoun that does not have a plural form (though the demonstrative pronoun that does have a plural form, those), so it can represent either singular or plural, depending on the noun it modifies. Thus the verb in the relative clause is plural, because that is plural. Commented Mar 26, 2020 at 15:36

1 Answer 1


Words like "that", "which", and "who" don't have any intrinsic plurality, they inherit it from their antecedents:

  • the box that is on the table
  • the boxes that are on the table

Interestingly, the example in the question could in theory be correct either way:

  • a handful of friends that want to hang out
  • a handful of friends that wants to hang out

with the second case having "that" refer to "handful" rather than to "friends". That would be somewhat awkward and unusual though. It might be more common if the word "group" were used rather than "handful".

Another example would be:

  • a quorum of judges that find him guilty (each judge finds)
  • a quorum of judges that finds him guilty (the quorum finds)

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