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  • My grammatical oddity
    by AlanH at 11:40 on 22 July 2014
    A fairly long time ago, I wrote this:

    Word soon circulates about the ferocity of Willow’s attack, and Franco’s parents insist she apologise and pay the medical bills.   

    I haven't had reason to change it. No one has flagged up an error, and several had read and critiqued - not just here on WW.

    But it's got a glaring grammatical error, hasn't it? It should be this:

     Word soon circulates about the ferocity of Willow’s attack, and Franco’s parents insist she apologises and pays the medical bills.

    So, why does the original sound okay, when the 3rd person verb rule (he/she/it) dictates that the verbs apologise and pay require the added ????

    I thought I was okay with grammar, but this has shaken me. 
    Added: of course, it's the preceding verb: insist. It beguiles the mind into thinking the following berbs should follow suit.
    ps. the grammar checker did not pick this up - neither version. 

    Edited by AlanH at 11:54:00 on 22 July 2014
    I do of curse mean verbs. (curse is deliberate)

    Edited by AlanH at 11:55:00 on 22 July 2014
  • Re: My grammatical oddity
    by Bunbry at 12:52 on 22 July 2014
    Hi Alan, I'm no expert, but the first version looks okay to me.  I think it works because you are using the present tense.  I'll follow this thread with interest!

  • Re: My grammatical oddity
    by Annecdotist at 17:30 on 22 July 2014
    I think the use of insist calls for the subjunctive tense which you've used correctly without the added s. It's uncertain whether Willow will apologise or pay the medical bills.
    I might be wrong though! This comment is based more on my knowledge of learning other languages than the grammar of English.
  • Re: My grammatical oddity
    by Terry Edge at 10:24 on 23 July 2014
    I don't think it sounds right. I picked up that 'apologise' and 'pay' were wrong - because you're saying Willow should be doing this, i.e. singular. Willow pays and apologises; not Willow apologise and pays - surely that sounds wrong when put like that, doesn't it? Similarly, 'insist' sounded right because it's the parents (plural) that are doing the insisting, i.e. you wouldn't say 'they insists'.

    This is sometimes called the subject verb agreement, which in essence means either both verb and subject are singluar or both are plural.

    I think editors have different ears sometimes to writers; they automatically link verbs to persons/subjects; writers don't always do so..