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Possible Duplicate:
[Singular] Is/Are [Plural]?

Should the verb be is or are? I would say 'are', but a colleague says 'is'.

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    Welcome to ELU, Maria! There is another question which I believe already answers you. See: singular-is-are-plural
    – MetaEd
    Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 15:28

3 Answers 3

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The ‘Cambridge Grammar of English’ by Carter and McCarthy states that 'In informal spoken language, speakers sometimes have a choice whether to use a singular or plural verb when there is a difference in number between the subject and the complement.' That might allow your sentence to be ‘The first and most well-known example are the reserves in the United States’. However, the same source also says that in such cases ‘Normally, and in more formal styles, the subject determines the number of the verb.’ That position seems to me to be more readily defensible.

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  • Thank you for the detailed explanation. I recast the sentence to avoid this issue altogether.
    – Maria
    Commented Feb 6, 2012 at 15:26
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In terms of grammar, the subject "The first and most well-known example" is singular and requires singular verb agreement. If doesn't sound natural you may rewrite as

The first and most well-known examples are ...

The reserves are the first and most ...

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  • Thanks for responding so quickly and for the advice on the rewrite.
    – Maria
    Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 10:15
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I would say 'the first and most well-known examples of this are reserves'.

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