Monday, October 8, 2007

Indianapolis Star, 10/6/07

An in-depth cover story on higher education opens with the following line: "A group of local residents, business people, and education leaders are pushing to create an educational campus that would house numerous higher education institutions in the area." Okay, first of all, this is a story about education, so the editor should make damn sure the grammar & syntax is perfect, right? Then, how about "A group of local... IS pushing to create..." The group is singular, therefore it IS, not ARE. You wouldn't say, "The group are coming to the party." The individual people who comprise the group ARE coming to the party, but the group itself (ONE group, comprised of many individuals) IS coming to the party.

13 comments:

vegan.mama said...

But what if what the author meant was "business people, education leaders, and a group of local residents"? In that case, using "are" would be fine -- and that might well be the case, unless the group is made up of those three types of people. This could be a mistaken word order choice, not necessarily a subject-verb agreement issue.

LCC said...

I'd say if they're acting as a single group, they're singular and "the group is." But if they're acting as individuals, then "the group are." I've always found collective nouns a little tricky since the verb agreement depends on the sense of the sentence.

Lesley (El Zed) said...
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Lesley (El Zed) said...

Absolutely right, vegan.mama!
And if we're worrying about subject-verb agreement, how about this: '... the editor should make damn sure the grammar & syntax is perfect, right?'
Actually, she or he should make sure the grammar and syntax ARE perfect. Right?

Andy Ray said...

Vegan.mama, I couldn't help but notice from your profile that you liked "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada." And I thought I was the only one who even saw that movie. I loved it too. Do you know Tommy Lee Jones will soon be appearing in a new Cohen Brothers movie?

I also loved "Little Miss Sunshine," but then who didn't?

I also loved "Reservoir Dogs," but it's hard to beat "Pulp Fiction" as the best & most influential movie of the 1990's.

Good call on David Mamet. Did you ever see my favorite Mamet movie, "The Spanish Prisoner?" Steve Martin's best performance ever, I believe.

Sorry to get off-track, everyone else, but it's so rare that I actually come across someone who is a true aficianado of classic & independent cinema.

oz said...

Can you please include a link to the actual article when referencing a story in the Star? I'd like to see the grammar mistakes in context occasionally.

Dr. Zoom said...
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The Management said...

For future reference, the only articles that are subject to special attention in editing are investigative pieces, those with anonymous sources or science writing.

vegan.mama said...

To the management: Dunno where you get your info, but I worked as a copy editor at a city desk for many years (for a major newspaper) and we read everything...maybe not suggesting extensive rewriting, but line editing on every piece.

Andy Ray: Yep -- some good movies. Good to know about Tommy Lee Jones. Have you seen Across the Universe yet?

Andy Ray said...

Vegan.Mama, no I haven't seen "Across The Universe," but I want to.

Vid said...

"Okay, first of all, this is a story about education, so the editor should make damn sure the grammar & syntax is perfect, right?"

Where do I begin?

Powers said...

Isn't "A group ... are" correct in some varieties of English?

Silverhill said...

And then there's the common error involving "comprise"....

Here's a good way to remember the distinction:
The whole comprises the parts; the parts compose the whole.