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-----Susan Gallagher wrote:-----
Now I'm completely confused. %-\
In the original sentence, "the set" is the subject and
"defines" is the verb and so the number of set and defines
must agree. "Of rules" is merely an intervening prepositional
phrase and should have no influence on subject/verb agreement.
I'm not convinced myself any more, even though it made perfect sense to me
an hour ago. Let me see if I can illustrate this in a way that convinces me
as well as anyone else who I managed to help confuse. Mind you, I'm digging
back to grammar exercises that I did back in about 1985 or 1986, so I'm
driving down an old dirt road in my brain (I did get an A in the class,
though!). Let's see if I can do justice to Michigan Tech's HU305 class!
What we saw was the sentence fragment "a set of rules that define(s)". The
word "define(s)" is not the sentence verb but is part of an adjectival
phrase that begins with the word "that." It needs to agree in number with
the thing that it modifies, but it can modify either the word "set" or the
word "rules." One is singular and the other is plural, so the word may be
"define" or "defines." In the clip that we saw, we don't see the verb of the
sentence, but whatever it is needs to be singular to go with "set."
I have a set of rules. The rules themselves (but not the
set of them) define something. Therefore, I refer to the
"set of rules that define."
For example: "The set of rules that define a civil lawsuit
is being modified."
- The base sentence is "The set is being modified."
- The phrase "that define a civil lawsuit" modifies "rules."
- The entire phrase "of rules that define a civil lawsuit"
is a prepositional phrase that modifies "set."
This sentence would probably be best rewritten as "The rules
that define a civil lawsuit are being modified."
I have a set of rules. The set of rules defines something.
Therefore, I refer to the "set of rules that defines."
For example: "The set of rules that defines a civil lawsuit
is being modified."
- The base sentence is still "The set is being modified."
- The prepositional phrase "of rules" modifies "set."
- The phrase "that defines a civil lawsuit" modifies the
phrase "set of rules."
This sentence would probably be best rewritten as "The set
of rules, which defines a civil lawsuit, is being modified."
I'm scaring myself! Could that actually be correct? I daresay that I think
I need to wash the taste of that grammar lesson out of my mouth with a nice,
cold virtual margarita. Anyone joining me? Blended or on the rocks. Regular
or flavored. Your choice! [SLURP] 8-)
(bouncing off the walls like Daffy Duck--woo hoo!)
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