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Determiners of Quantity

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Determiners of Quantity [#permalink] New post 14 Jun 2012, 18:24
Hello

The rule from GMAT Grammar book states the following: If the object of the preposition is singular, use a singular verb. If the object of the preposition is plural, use a plural verb.

Half of the dresses are dirty.
Half of the sugar is gone.
A high percentage of the population is educated.
A high percentage of the people are happy.
The majority of Congress has voted for the bill.
The majority of Senators have voted favorably.

However look at this sentence from Kaplan:

Contrary to popular belief, extinction is a common phenomenon in nature; in fact, the majority of the species that have existed on our planet are already extinct, with most disappearing long before Homo sapiens evolved.

Shouldn't it be: the majority of the species has existed?

Is there a set of words that fall under that rule?
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Re: Determiners of Quantity [#permalink] New post 14 Jun 2012, 19:03
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Hi, words like majority,plurality,minority can be either singular or plural depending on their context.If one means the many individual
parts of the totality,then use a plural verb form.

e.g. The majority of the students in this class 'are' hard workers.

The student majority 'is' opposed to the death penalty.

So while species may otherwise be singular,but in the context of this sentence 'majority of species' it is considering species as a big group with
sub groups of species as smaller parts hence the 'have' in the sentence.

Hope this helps.
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Re: Determiners of Quantity [#permalink] New post 14 Jun 2012, 19:08
Do u think "Species" is singular?
Think again. "Species" can be singular as well as plural. Form of verbs will be decided based on the context in uses.
In this particular example :

"Majority of Species" actually referring to "most of such species" which essentially is plural and so verb (have) is also plural.
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Re: Determiners of Quantity [#permalink] New post 15 Jun 2012, 08:49
This is helpful, thank you! If anybody feels like sharing more examples it would be great
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Re: Determiners of Quantity [#permalink] New post 17 Jun 2012, 06:37
librrra wrote:
This is helpful, thank you! If anybody feels like sharing more examples it would be great

Fish, sheep, squid and pants come to mind.
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Re: Determiners of Quantity [#permalink] New post 26 Jun 2012, 16:09
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Hey librrra, these are called nouns with identical singular and plural. Fortunately, there aren't many of them! You've spotted one to watch out for. Also beware of:

  • "series"
  • "aircraft" (or "hovercraft," "watercraft," or any kind of -craft vehicle)
  • lots of animals, including "deer," "buffalo," "moose," and many types of fish

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Re: Determiners of Quantity   [#permalink] 26 Jun 2012, 16:09
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