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Is this sentence grammatically correct?

 
 
Reply Sat 13 Jun, 2009 05:48 pm
I'm reading a book right now that is so badly edited that I am finding mistakes left and right. In the beginning of the book, there is a sentence that I thought was incorrect, but now I'm not sure if it's technically wrong or not. What do you think?

"All around town there was a ring of black clouds that were invisible against the night, but..."

My first reaction was that the bolded word "were" should be the singular "was" instead of the plural form, because the subject is the ring of clouds, which is singular, and not the clouds themselves, which would be plural. But after debating it with a couple people, I'm not so sure anymore.

Anybody know for sure?
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Type: Question • Score: 0 • Views: 1,690 • Replies: 14
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Jun, 2009 06:04 pm
"There was" is subject verb agreement, because "there" refers to "a ring."

"That were" is subject verb agreement, because "that" refers to "black clouds."

(Just so's you'll know, it is one of the last chapters in The Three Musketeers, which in the English translations, begins: "It was a dark and stormy night . . . ")
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Jun, 2009 06:18 pm
@kickycan,
You shouldn't be reading books with sentences like that in them kicky.
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Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Jun, 2009 06:59 pm
This was probably written by that Grisham character, right? If he wrote answers to essay exams the way he writers sentences which earn him literally millions, he'd never pass a single English composition course at any level.
Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Jun, 2009 07:00 pm
@Merry Andrew,
And Spendius is absolutely right -- you've got no business reading trash like that.
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kickycan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Jun, 2009 07:27 pm
Hey, it's just something to pass the time on the subway. Bad Horror novels need love too, don't they?
Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Jun, 2009 07:37 pm
@kickycan,
kickycan wrote:

Hey, it's just something to pass the time on the subway. Bad Horror novels need love too, don't they?


On the subway one should read either AM New York, or The Onion, in my opinion. Or the Voice. All available at the nearest corner.
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Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Jun, 2009 09:05 am
@kickycan,
kickycan wrote:
"All around town there was a ring of black clouds that were invisible against the night, but..."

"Was" and "were" are both grammatically correct, but carry slightly different meanings. "Was" means that the author is talking about an invisible ring of clouds; "were" means that the author is talking about a ring of invisible clouds.
kickycan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Jun, 2009 09:12 am
@Thomas,
Yeah, but when you wrote that, were you talking about that sentence about the invisible clouds, or was it about that invisible clouds sentence?

0 Replies
 
kickycan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Jun, 2009 09:14 am
And what about this sentence?

"Is you is or is you ain't my baby?"

Is that is correct, or is it ain't?
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Jun, 2009 09:42 am
@kickycan,
Without doubt.
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Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Jun, 2009 10:04 am
@kickycan,
Quote:
"All around town there was a ring of black clouds that were invisible against the night, but..."


The real problem with this poor excuse for a sentence isn't the disagreement between the two verbs in it but, rather, the feeble attempt to describe something which the author freely admits was actually "invisible." BTW, was this written by Grisham? What the hell you reading, Kicky?
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Jun, 2009 11:37 am
@Merry Andrew,
Quote:
This was probably written by that Grisham character, right? If he wrote answers to essay exams the way he writers sentences which earn him literally millions, he'd never pass a single English composition course at any level.


Not if he followed the nonsense that was around when you were in school, eh, Merry? Luckily, he doesn't.

Quote:
The real problem with this poor excuse for a sentence isn't the disagreement between the two verbs in it but, rather, the feeble attempt to describe something which the author freely admits was actually "invisible."


What disagreement, Merry?

I can't understand what you're talking about, Merry. Authors frequently describe situations for their readers that are not visible to the characters contained within.

What's his name King, not to mention pretty much every ghost/horror/murder mystery writer would be dead in the water without this ability.
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kickycan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Jun, 2009 11:59 am
@Merry Andrew,
It's a horor novel called "Bad Moon Rising," by a guy named Jonathan Maberry. It's the last book in a trilogy. I read the first one a couple years ago and I actually kinda liked it. The second one sucked, but I had to get this one to find out how it all ends!
0 Replies
 
McTag
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Jun, 2009 12:25 pm

Credence Clearwater Revival.
0 Replies
 
 

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