cvs commit: www/en about.sgml

Ceri Davies ceri at
Wed Nov 8 19:32:58 UTC 2006

On Wed, Nov 08, 2006 at 09:38:00AM -0700, John E Hein wrote:
> Ceri Davies wrote at 22:20 +0000 on Nov  7, 2006:
>  > On Tue, Nov 07, 2006 at 05:00:26PM -0500, John Baldwin wrote:
>  > > These directions are all you need.
>  > > 
>  > > These directions is all you need.
>  > 
>  > Those two sentences invert the subject and object.
> The basic structure of the sentence being discussed is this:
> <Subject> is/are <predicate nominative>.
> The rule is that the verb should agree with the subject.
> If the subject is plural, use 'are'.
> If the subject is singular, use 'is'.
> In order to determine which sense of the verb to use in the original
> sentence, you need only determine if the subject is singular or
> plural.  Simple, right?  Maybe not.
> "All you need is/are these directions."
> The problem is that in this sentence, it's not entirely
> clear whether the subjective clause (All you need) is
> plural or singular.
> It could be either.  "All you need" may be one thing (a cookie) or a
> few things (the following ingredients: flour, brown sugar, butter and
> chocolate chips).  Other pronouns with the same property as "all"
> include "any" and "some".


> So my conclusion was that "these directions" are plural, and thus
> "are" is better.  But one could claim that "these directions" is
> singular (as in "the list of these directions" where "the list of" is
> implicit), in which case it could be argued that "is" is a better
> choice.  If the sentence were, "All you need is this list of
> directions", it would seem to clearly point to using "is".  But that's
> really a different sentence.

Yep.  I hinted in my reply to Max Laier this morning that I might be
backing down on this one.  Not saying that I am, or nuthin'... :)

That must be wonderful!  I don't understand it at all.
                                                  -- Moliere
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