Author Topic: I thought it should be 'is'!  (Read 3490 times)

Miss Mae

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I thought it should be 'is'!
« on: April 15, 2012, 01:26:31 PM »
Shouldn't it be 'the answer is simple: both'?

And the questions about Germany continue. Berlin or Munich? Castle or club? Ski or hike? East or west? BMW or Mercedes?
In fact, the answers are simple: both.

Joe Carillo

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Re: I thought it should be 'is'!
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2012, 12:03:35 PM »
No, since there are actually five questions, answering them with “The answer is simple: both” would not only be grammatically incorrect but also confusing. This statement provided in the passage is therefore correct: “In fact, the answers are simple: both.”

I can understand your confusion though, for even that correct answer is rather semantically slippery. It’s hard to pin down mentally to which “both” refers. For clarity, I would word that statement as follows:

“In fact, the answer to each question is simple: both.”

Another clear way to word that statement:

“In fact, the answers to all five questions are simple: both.”

The first alternative construction, which treats “answer” as a singular subject, makes it clear that the answer “both” applies to each of the five questions; the second alternative construction, which treats “answers” as a plural subject, makes it clear that the answer “both” applies to all five questions.

Miss Mae

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Re: I thought it should be 'is'!
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2012, 02:51:28 PM »
How about In fact, the answer to these questions are simple: both?