False Attraction to a Predicate Noun
We all know that a singular noun subject requires a singular verb, and a plural subject requires a plural verb.
- My favorite is the giraffe.
- My favorites are nasturtiums and dahlias.
And we usually aren’t thrown by a plural subject with a singular predicate:
- Nasturtiums are my favorite.
But somehow doubt tends to arise when a singular noun subject is linked to a plural predicate noun. Nothing sounds right:
- My favorite is giraffes?
- My favorite are giraffes?
In fact, as CMOS 5.141 (17th ed.) explains, the singular noun favorite requires a singular verb (in this case, is) no matter what follows: my favorite is giraffes.
Any time all the choices sound odd, another option is to rearrange the sentence into something more pleasing:
- Giraffes are my favorite.
~ ~ ~
Have you stopped by the new Chicago Manual store at Threadless?
Please see our commenting policy.
One thought on “Section 5.141 in the Spotlight”
As a writer and freelance editor, I eat up these Shop Talks and quizzes. Thanks!
Comments are closed.