Which of the following sentences are correct?

Effective algorithms for concurrent programming is the main subject of of investigation in this note.

Effective algorithms for concurrent programming are the main subject of of investigation in this note.

My confusion is that "Effective algorithms" is plural, but "Effective algorithms for concurrent programming" as a whole is the subject of investigation.

In https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copula_(linguistics) it is stated that "the copula normally agrees with the preceding phrase even if it is not logically the subject". But I still have doubts about the above sentences.

  • Does this answer your question? notional subject-verb agreement other than for measurement, degree, etc Jun 17, 2020 at 10:49
  • 1
    How can one tell an S-V-Comp from a Comp-V-S sentence? I'd assume S-initial here. Then (a) if you consider the subject Effective algorithms for concurrent programming to be plural, you must use are; verb agreement is always subject-governed. (b) There are sound reasons to consider 'Effective algorithms for concurrent programming' to be a composite singular concept (even a title), when notional agreement, which many subscribe to, demands a singular verb-form. I'd set off 'Effective algorithms for concurrent programming', probably with italics rather than inverted commas. Jun 17, 2020 at 10:50
  • If you see Comp-V-S as being a more reasonable analysis (and I couldn't argue), you still require the singular verb-form. // Fowler has: << The only comment necessary ... is that, when ... it makes no difference to the meaning which of two words is made the subject and which the complement, the one that is placed first must (except in questions) be regarded as subject and have the verb suited to its number: Our only guide was the stars, or The stars were our only guide. >> Jun 17, 2020 at 10:53
  • Note that with a fronted nominal where notional agreement is not available, How do I determine which phrase is the subject and which the subject complement in ...? is the more relevant duplicate. The principle that subject, rather than object or subject complement, determines verb form is covered extensively, and on ELL. Jun 17, 2020 at 11:02
  • You need singular "is". Mismatches of number between subject and PC are fairly common especially with specifying "be". They are usually reversible, cf. "The main subject of investigation in this note is effective algorithms for concurrent programming".Note that when we reverse the order in the specifying construction we change the functions.Thus while "effective algorithms for concurrent programming" is subject in your example, "the main subject of investigation in this note" is subject in the reversed order. In other words, the specifying construction is always S-V-PC.
    – BillJ
    Jun 17, 2020 at 11:44


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.