Author Topic: Use of Indefinite Pronouns and Subject-Verb Agreement  (Read 10316 times)

Michael E. Galario

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Use of Indefinite Pronouns and Subject-Verb Agreement
« on: August 15, 2013, 09:38:11 PM »
Hi sir,

It has been a long time since I posted my query about grammar on this site.
This time, I'm here to seek clarification on the use of the indefinite pronouns particularly with regard to the subject - verb ruling =)

As far as I know the pronouns some, both, few, many and others can only pair with a countable noun and would require its noun to be in plural inflection and same as with the verb.

Structure:       ALL/SOME/FEW/BOTH/MANY + Plural Countable Noun

e.g. All men are mortal.        Some clothes are already old.       Few students love Math          
      Many girls love Teleserye.

The same goes true if these pronouns would be used barely as subject of the sentence without the head noun.

e.g.   Many are called.           Few are chosen

Question: Is my understanding about the usage correct?

Next, with regard to the use of Some All None Any Most. I know that these verbs can take singular or plural verb depending on the noun following the partitive phrase or the -of phrase.

SANAM of Plural COUNTABLE NOUN = plural verb
 
                 Some of the students are not listening to their teacher.

SANAM of MASS NOUN = singular verb

                 ALL of the milk has spilled on the floor.

Question: Is it possible for these pronoun to be followed by an of phrase with a single countable noun?

                 e.g. Some of the student

Hope you'll be able to shed light on this.

Thanks sir.

Mike
« Last Edit: August 17, 2013, 10:12:40 AM by Joe Carillo »
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Joe Carillo

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Re: Use of Indefinite Pronouns and Subject-Verb Agreement
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2013, 09:13:29 AM »
Your first question is whether or not the words “all,” “some,” “both,” “few,” “many,” and “other” can only pair off with a countable noun and that they would require that noun as well as the verb to be plural in inflection.

This generalization applies only to “both,” “few,” “many,” and “other” when they are used not as indefinite pronouns but as adjectives, as in “Both girls resemble their mother” and as in these three of the four sentences that you provided as examples: “All men are mortal.”  “Few students love Math.” “Many girls love Teleserye.” As adjectives, “all,” “few,” and “many” indeed generally can only pair off with a countable noun in plural form and require the verb to be in the plural form as well. A notable exception though is the noun “creation” in the sentence “All creation is the handiwork of God,” where “creation” is an uncountable noun that’s singular in sense, thus requiring the singular verb form “is.”

As to “some” used as an adjective, however, the countable noun and the verb can take either the plural or singular form. In this particular sentence that you provided, “Some clothes are already old,” the countable noun “clothes” is obviously plural, thus requiring the plural verb form “are.” But when the adjective “some” is used as a modifier in the sense of being an unknown, undetermined, or unspecified unit or thing, the countable noun it modifies can also take the singular form, as in “Some guy is courting Mario’s sister” and “Some part of the engine is malfunctioning.” The usage of “some” here indicates that the writer or speaker is uncertain of the identity of who or what is being talked about.

It is when they are used as stand-alone subjects in a sentence that “all,” “some,” “both,” “few,” “many,” and “other” function as indefinite pronouns. As such, all of them are plural in sense and require the plural form of the verb, as in “Both resemble their mother,” “All are mortal.”  “Few love Math,” and “Many love Teleserye.”  

Now to your second question: When working as indefinite pronouns, is it possible for “some,” “all,” “none,” “any,” and “most” (“SANAM” for short) to be followed by an “of”-phrase with a countable noun in singular form, as in “some of the student”? The answer is absolutely no. When any of the SANAM is used, the countable noun that follows the “of”-phrase should always be in the plural form, as in “Some of the students are absent,” “All of the players are excited,” and “None of my friends is coming today.” That’s just the way it is with the indefinite pronouns in English.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2013, 10:12:56 AM by Joe Carillo »

Michael E. Galario

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Re: Use of Indefinite Pronouns and the Subject-Verb Agreement
« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2013, 11:53:09 PM »
Thank you sir for making things clear here. Truly, you are one of the best  references when it comes to this language. I hope someday I would be able to speak with you and sit-in to one of your classes should you be still teaching or doing seminars and trainings. I want to personally ask you about some of the intricate aspects of grammar.

Honestly, I have already attended some language trainings in the past. However, in those training no in depth analysis of the language had been made. Maybe, this could be due to time constraints or lack of knowledge of the speaker or it might be the attendees as well who had no thorough knowledge of the language at that time.

My thirst for learning this language is growing. It's inexplicable. I don't know why I'm very desirous to learn this language. I often feel the need to master it not because I graduated with a degree related to this but more than that. I fervently hope that I would be able to acquire the same linguistic/grammatical competence like yours. But it seems, I'm still at the threshold of learning this language. =)
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Michael E. Galario

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Re: Use of Indefinite Pronouns and Subject-Verb Agreement
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2016, 07:13:54 AM »
Your first question is whether or not the words “all,” “some,” “both,” “few,” “many,” and “other” can only pair off with a countable noun and that they would require that noun as well as the verb to be plural in inflection.

This generalization applies only to “both,” “few,” “many,” and “other” when they are used not as indefinite pronouns but as adjectives, as in “Both girls resemble their mother” and as in these three of the four sentences that you provided as examples: “All men are mortal.”  “Few students love Math.” “Many girls love Teleserye.” As adjectives, “all,” “few,” and “many” indeed generally can only pair off with a countable noun in plural form and require the verb to be in the plural form as well. A notable exception though is the noun “creation” in the sentence “All creation is the handiwork of God,” where “creation” is an uncountable noun that’s singular in sense, thus requiring the singular verb form “is.”

As to “some” used as an adjective, however, the countable noun and the verb can take either the plural or singular form. In this particular sentence that you provided, “Some clothes are already old,” the countable noun “clothes” is obviously plural, thus requiring the plural verb form “are.” But when the adjective “some” is used as a modifier in the sense of being an unknown, undetermined, or unspecified unit or thing, the countable noun it modifies can also take the singular form, as in “Some guy is courting Mario’s sister” and “Some part of the engine is malfunctioning.” The usage of “some” here indicates that the writer or speaker is uncertain of the identity of who or what is being talked about.

It is when they are used as stand-alone subjects in a sentence that “all,” “some,” “both,” “few,” “many,” and “other” function as indefinite pronouns. As such, all of them are plural in sense and require the plural form of the verb, as in “Both resemble their mother,” “All are mortal.”  “Few love Math,” and “Many love Teleserye.”  

Now to your second question: When working as indefinite pronouns, is it possible for “some,” “all,” “none,” “any,” and “most” (“SANAM” for short) to be followed by an “of”-phrase with a countable noun in singular form, as in “some of the student”? The answer is absolutely no. When any of the SANAM is used, the countable noun that follows the “of”-phrase should always be in the plural form, as in “Some of the students are absent,” “All of the players are excited,” and “None of my friends is coming today.” That’s just the way it is with the indefinite pronouns in English.

Hi Joe,

Good day.

I would just like to have a confirmation about the above topic. I am just making some generalizations for Indefinite Pronouns subject-verb ruling.

For SANAM followed by an "of - phrase, the decision whether to use a singular or a  plural verb depends on whether the "of-phrase" is followed by a non-count or a count noun. If the "of-phrase" is followed by a non-count noun, the verb to use is singular. If the "of-phrase" is followed by a count-noun, the verb to use is plural. In writing sentences, one must see to it that if an "of-phrase is followed by a count noun, the count noun should always be in its plural inflection.

Follow-up question, Can we construe a count noun as notionally singular if the individual entirety is considered?


I just saw this sentence in google books: "Most of the hospital remains open on weekends."

My analysis and stand here is the noun following the of phrase should be in plural form "hospitals"  if the speaker meant to refer to more than one hospital. Logic tells me that a hospital doesn't have any portions that would be closed during weekends. Additionally, hospital is used as a count noun above.


See my examples:

Most of the hospital was burned down during the fire.
Most of the hospitals require down payment before confinement.

Hope you could shed light on this.

Thank you and regards,

Mike
« Last Edit: May 11, 2016, 06:07:31 AM by Michael E. Galario »
"The only thing that's worse than not knowing how to do something is to do something wrong while believing that it's right."

Remember: We may know something but definitely not everything.