Case 7: The Guardian can't count to one

21st December 2001

Filed by: Officer Taylor

The Offence

In question 42 of its Christmas quiz, the Football Guardian asks the question:

Which of the following teams have not led the Premiership so far during the 2001-02 season?

The Verdict

The Guardian is plainly guilty of subject-verb mismatch. Of the four teams listed, only one - Manchester United - has not led the league: a fact which is apparent from the quiz's multiple-choice nature. The quiz is asking which one team satisfies the condition of not having led the Premiership.

The subject of the verb, then, is not ``the following teams'' (which would have been plural), but ``Which (of the following teams)'' (which is singular). Accordingly, the verb must be singular too: the Guardian should have asked ``Which of the following teams has not led the Premiership?''

In accordance with what is rapidly becoming standard SAGP procedure, we will now show just how stupid this mistake is by imagining how the Guardian writers would have provided the answer to the question, had they been consistent with the way they asked the question:

The following teams have not led the Premiership so far during the 2001-02 season:

As a wise man once said: ``Du-huh!''

The Sentence

It is the season of goodwill to all men, including those incapable of writing a perfectly straightforward sentence, so we leniently sentence the Guardian's quizmeisters to one hundred lines: ``We will ensure our verbs matches their subjects[1]''.

And a very merry Christmas to you.

Next case!



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