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maestrowork
02-04-2007, 11:30 PM
This one always gets me:


A group of students discuss the topic with their teacher.

or

A group of students discusses the topic with their teacher.

Provrb1810meggy
02-04-2007, 11:33 PM
I believe it's discuss.

scarletpeaches
02-04-2007, 11:39 PM
A group of students discusses the topic with its teacher, because 'group' is a collective noun, I think.

Sage
02-04-2007, 11:41 PM
"discuss" sounds better, but I believe Scarlet is right.

benbradley
02-04-2007, 11:59 PM
A group discusses. Students discuss. The noun in "A group of students" is group, and it is the subject of the sentence (thus the verb must agree in number with the singular noun "group").

"Of students" is a prepositional phrase, not a noun, and cannot be the subject of a sentence, in spite of it being the subject of THIS sentence. :)

ETA: You'll occasionally get just this sort of thing on the SAT Question Of The Day.
http://www.collegeboard.com/apps/qotd/question

scarletpeaches
02-05-2007, 12:00 AM
I don't understand a word of that^^^.

But trust me. I'm right. I'm always right. :ROFL:

Medievalist
02-05-2007, 12:52 AM
A is a singular indefinite article; group is a collective, and thus singular; the verb is singular. "Of students" is a modifier; ignore it.

maestrowork
02-05-2007, 01:03 AM
In that case, would that be "their teacher" or "its teacher"?

scarletpeaches
02-05-2007, 01:11 AM
Its.

daoine
02-05-2007, 02:20 AM
It would sound less wordy and awkward if you wrote: "The students discuss the topic with their teacher."

scarletpeaches
02-05-2007, 02:25 AM
But then the present-tense police would break down his door and haul his pretty-boy ass to jail.

Sage
02-05-2007, 02:28 AM
But then the present-tense police would break down his door and haul his pretty-boy ass to jail.
But if it was in past tense, whether the noun was singular or plural wouldn't matter (in both cases it'd be "discussed"), though he would still have to worry about "their" vs. "its."

maestrowork
02-05-2007, 08:13 AM
* sigh *

It's not about the effectiveness of the sentence or how it can be rewritten. These threads are always about "grammar" -- the proper grammar. These are just examples. They are not going to win any writing awards.

Sage
02-05-2007, 08:34 AM
Poor, Ray. :Hug2:

maestrowork
02-05-2007, 08:50 AM
It's not just me. I've seen this happen before. Someone posts a bland, not-that-well-written, quick and dirty sentence to illustrate a question about grammar and people start telling the poster "you should write it this way instead; problem solved -- no need to worry about the grammar issue." That's so totally not the point. This thread is not about "how that sentence can be rewritten" but about the proper grammar pertaining "A group of." The same thing happened in the "Neither nor" thread.

ErylRavenwell
02-05-2007, 09:57 AM
In the above example, "group" is considered as one unit, so singular. Students, as someone pointed above, is a modifier.

However, when used in relation to prepositions such as "among" like in "among themselves", group is plural.

It is not as straight forward.

For example: The group are always arguing among themselves.

Another example:

1. The enemy is wavering. (A collective. Enemy viewed as one unit.)

But you write: The enemy have several armoured regiments at their disposal.

Check the dictionary for "collective noun" attribute before making your decision.

ErylRavenwell
02-05-2007, 10:13 AM
It's not just me. I've seen this happen before. Someone posts a bland, not-that-well-written, quick and dirty sentence to illustrate a question about grammar and people start telling the poster "you should write it this way instead; problem solved -- no need to worry about the grammar issue." That's so totally not the point. This thread is not about "how that sentence can be rewritten" but about the proper grammar pertaining "A group of." The same thing happened in the "Neither nor" thread.


Thank you for bringing this matter to light. :)

benbradley
02-05-2007, 10:19 AM
In the above example, "group" is considered as one unit, so singular. Students, as someone pointed above, is a modifier.

However, when used in relation to prepositions such as "among" like in "among themselves", group is plural.

It is not as straight forward.

From example: The group are always arguing among themselves.
...
Check the dictionary for "collective noun" attribute before making your decision.

Argh. I vaguely recall something like this, it may be grammatically correct, but it reads SO "wrongly" that I want to do just as maestrowork was saying as the 'problem' in these threads, rewrite the sentence so as to avoid the grmmatical problem:

The group members are always arguing among themselves.

My-Immortal
02-05-2007, 10:23 AM
Argh. I vaguely recall something like this, it may be grammatically correct, but it reads SO "wrongly" that I want to do just as maestrowork was saying as the 'problem' in these threads, rewrite the sentence so as to avoid the grmmatical problem:

The group members are always arguing among themselves.

I think the 'problem' that Ray is talking about is common because everyone here (okay, maybe not EVERYone) just wants to help his/her fellow writer and when a sentence is written awkwardly (even if it is just a sample sentence), they'd rather rewrite it than try to find the grammatically proper (but poorly sounding) way to express it.

Sorry Ray....
:)

Medievalist
02-05-2007, 10:32 AM
I know y'all must be sick of me saying this all the time here, but The Dictionary is Your Friend, especially the Blessed American Heritage with its Usage Notes, like this one on Group (http://www.bartleby.com/61/62/G0286200.html).

My-Immortal
02-05-2007, 10:35 AM
I know y'all must be sick of me saying this all the time here, but The Dictionary is Your Friend, especially the Blessed American Heritage with its Usage Notes, like this one on Group (http://www.bartleby.com/61/62/G0286200.html).

Darn tricky language....

daoine
02-05-2007, 11:43 AM
Syntax is grammar too.

maestrowork
02-05-2007, 06:23 PM
Syntax is grammar too.

It would be considered off-topic. It's like discussing apples, then someone suggests "Why don't you eat an orange instead?" So why even bother discussing grammar, if the magic bullet is "rewrite it"?