Grammar Wednesday

The “Better Late Than Never” edition.

I’m CRAZY busy this week; Mr. Chili is away, so I’m single parenting and, of course, I had signed up for a workshop this week (before I knew he would be gone), I’m getting crappy sleep lately, and I think I might be coming down with something.  If any of you are single parents, I unsarcastically bow to your superior logistical skills and patience.  Seriously; I don’t know how anyone can do this as a matter of course.

Luckily, I have California Teacher Guy to bail my harried ass out of a GW jam (oh, and check it out; he did his very own Grammar Wednesday at his site, and a lovely and biting one, too!).  He emailed me on Saturday with this request:

My dear Mrs. Chili,

The county tax collector put the following notice in the local newspaper:

“The First Installment of 2008/09 taxes are due and payable November 1, 2008…”

Right this grievous wrong, please!


For starters, I’m not exactly sure what’s going on with that funky capitalization, but essentially what we have here is another matter of subject/verb agreement.  It’s the first installment that’s due – taxes is modifying the installment – so the verb in that sentence should be is.

I’ve been hearing a LOT of this sort of thing lately – I must be tuned in to it.  Just this afternoon, while driving home from the aforementioned workshop (which, not for nothing, was about as far as one can get across my state and still be IN my state – I live on the extreme opposite side, so I got to listen to four hours of NPR today), I heard a BBC reporter say something like “one in ten Americans is in favor…” of something or other…  Sorry – I can’t remember the gist of the sentence because I was too geeked out about the subject/verb agreement thing being right (and I’m willing to cut myself some slack; I’ve been up since a little after five this morning).

I’m off for a VERY early bedtime.  Nite, nite, y’all!



Filed under Grammar

3 responses to “Grammar Wednesday

  1. “are” sounds fine to me in both of your examples. I think I’m interpreting “taxes” and “Americans” as the subjects, which are modified by “first installment” and “one in ten” respectively.

    Alternatively it could be something to do with the principle of proximity, where the verb tends to agree with a closely preceding noun phrase.

  2. starmax

    I enjoyed your blog. I will come back to visit. Thank you. David

  3. “One in ten Americans is” IS correct, because you are using the singular subject- if you drop the “in Americans”, you would say “One is correct”. Because only ONE is correct, the 3rd person singular form of the verb is used. “Ten Americans” ARE correct.
    Ok, in re-reading your post, did I just vehemently agree with what you wrote? I think I did. Wow. I’m a geek, too.

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