In a Euronews headline I saw the following:

Frontex: What would happen if the EU border agency quit Greece?.

Shouldn't it be "quits Greece"? As far as I understood EU border agency is singular.

Reopen note:

Although the original close vote as a duplicate was accepted, Stuart F has since pointed out that the real issue here is that quit is probably past tense. I agree. The 'duplicate'tag here might wrongly lead readers to assume that the issue here is simply about singular/plural subjects.

  • 2
    Alternatively, it might be singular because "he/she/it quit" is a past tense of "quit" (although "he/she/it quitted" is also found). But the question seems to assume it's present tense and be asking whether organizations take singular or plural, which is much discussed here.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jun 29, 2023 at 8:46
  • @StuartF yes, it answers the question, thank you
    – Michael
    Commented Jun 29, 2023 at 8:47
  • Americans are probably more likely to think only the singular verb form (quits) should be used. Most Brits (who are quite happy with the government is... OR the government are...) wouldn't notice or care whether the EU border agency was treated as singular or plural. Commented Jun 29, 2023 at 15:37
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    The reopen request is pointless. The OP was obviously asking about singular or plural, so the duplicate is valid. But even if the OP changes / changed his mind and makes / made it a question about whether quit is / was Present or Past tense, it would still be a duplicate! Of a different question that I haven't bothered to identify yet, but I'm quite certain we'll have had several questions about whether to use Present or Past for a hypothetical, and it just so happens quit is the same form for both. But I won't be allowed to re-vote to close again! Commented Jun 29, 2023 at 15:44
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    @Araucaria-Nothereanymore.: The first IF + Present / Past pair that came to mind was "If I do" "If I did", so I put them in to a Google site-specific search (the built-in SO search facility doesn't work very well, imho). Anyway, that search found a question, but I don't think much of the answer, so I'll try to think of some more generic search terms for the built-in. About the only good thing about the built-in is it can sort any results by "Votes" to find the most popular one. There'll be loads, I'm sure. Commented Jun 30, 2023 at 0:41

1 Answer 1


"Quit" isn't a present tense verb. It's a past-tense verb in the protasis of a "remote" (or "counterfactual") conditional. The question has the same basic syntax as:

If the EU border agency quit Greece, x would happen.

Compare this to the past tense "had" in:

If you had a trash can, I would tip it over.


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