Says, Say - This Has Nothing To Do With Allen

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Is it "say" or "says?"

A recent poll found that two-thirds of the population say blah, blah, blah...

A recent poll found that two-thirds of the population says blah, blah, blah...

My ears tell me it is "say," and my wife agrees. She works with words all day, every day. Perhaps it is the letter "s" at the end of "two-thirds" causing me to hear a plural.

"Population "would be a collective singular, while the quantity of two-thirds might not.

MS Word does not like "say," and flags it.

Half of the population say or says?
One fourth of the population say or says?

Where are Alexa and Hey Sal? They will know.

:-Don


  • Profile picture of the author Steven Wagenheim
    "of the population" is a prepositional phrase so you remove it when figuring this
    out.

    The rule is "singular/plural, plural/singular"

    So if your subject is singular "half" then it's "half says"

    If your subject is plural "two-thirds" then it's "two-thirds say"

    Now the real question is this. Is two-thirds in this case considered plural?

    Bacon and eggs is singular because it's considered one thing. So the sentence

    "Bacon and eggs is a good breakfast" would be correct and not "Bacon and
    eggs are a good breakfast"

    So again, is "two-thirds" considered singular or plural? Get the answer to that
    and you'll have the answer as to whether to use say or says.

    Sometimes the English language doesn't "sound" right because of rules like
    these.
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  • Profile picture of the author HeySal
    Stevie gets a gold star.

    This is a mistake that you see a lot in editing - an easy one to make when you're writing a lot of complex sentences, too. Has nothing to do with knowing better - just a writer wrapped up in what they are saying and composing rapidly.

    Just saysin'
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    Sal
    When the Roads and Paths end, learn to guide yourself through the wilderness
    Beyond the Path

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  • Profile picture of the author Don Schenk
    So again, is "two-thirds" considered singular or plural? Get the answer to that and you'll have the answer as to whether to use say or says.
    So if two-thirds is a collective sinular, "says" is correct. If two-thirds is plural, "say" is correct. Because "two-thirds" ends in the letter "s," my ears want to go with plural, in which case I guess I will use "say."

    It's part of the opening sentence in a press release. Some jounalist can be rather picky.

    I can only imagine how difficult it must be for someone trying to learn English as a second language.

    :-Don
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    • Profile picture of the author Kay King
      If the "word" comes from a plural majority - it's say.
      If only one person is the source - it's says.

      He says.
      They say.


      The group says....because there is one group.

      Members of the group say....because there are plural members referenced.

      Some jounalist can be rather picky.
      You do mean "some journalists..." right?:rolleyes:


      Actually - if you are reporting an event that has happened...might be better to use "said".
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      My body thinks my mind is an idiot.
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