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A minority of smth. - plural or singular?
Thread poster: pashtet
pashtet  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:49
English to Russian
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Oct 11, 2007

Dear colleagues,
Could you please share your opinion on whether the second instance of use of the verb "to be" is grammatically correct in this sentence:

"...only a minority of the potential share capital of the companies which are profiled were listed on the London Stock Exchange."

Thank you in advance!


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Binnur Tuncel van Pomeren  Identity Verified
Germany
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My nose says singular Oct 11, 2007

only a minority of the potential share capital of the companies which are profiled was listed on the London Stock Exchange

simply: a minority (of bla bla) was listed


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pashtet  Identity Verified
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I agree Oct 11, 2007

Binnur Tuncel van Pomeren wrote:

only a minority of the potential share capital of the companies which are profiled was listed on the London Stock Exchange

simply: a minority (of bla bla) was listed


Thank you! That's what I thought, too. But there have to be some clear-cut rules that govern the choice of the plural/singular form of the verb in such situations. For instance, if we say "a minority of cats" they we'd have to use a plural form.

[Edited at 2007-10-11 15:19]

[Edited at 2007-10-11 15:19]


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Binnur Tuncel van Pomeren  Identity Verified
Germany
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How do you mean, a minority of cats then plural Oct 11, 2007

You're very much welcome buuuut your question has rather puzzled me!

Paul Turchaninoff wrote:

Binnur Tuncel van Pomeren wrote:

only a minority of the potential share capital of the companies which are profiled was listed on the London Stock Exchange

simply: a minority (of bla bla) was listed


Thank you! That's what I thought, too. But there have to be some clear-cut rules that govern the choice of the plural/singular form of the verb in such situations. For instance, if we say "a minority of cats" they we'd have to use a plural form.

[Edited at 2007-10-11 15:19]

[Edited at 2007-10-11 15:19]


as long as it is a main sentence, it should be:

a minority of X's is....

The stress should be on " a minority" not on "X=cats"...

X here is a genitive case. Sure, there may be instances that turned out to look like differently, but I can explain it with this fundamental rule. Do you have this sentence with cats as well? maybe, we can check it as well?

[Edited at 2007-10-11 15:31]


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
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Spanish to English
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minority, a singular word Oct 11, 2007

It wd be more correct to say:

only a small proportion/percentage of ...share capital of profiled companies was listed .... EXCEPT SEE BELOW

A minority can only exist with countables, theoretically, because you calculate 51% by counting and doing the sums

Example: a minority of the people in the room

It can't really go with non-countables like "capital"

That said however, minority has a special meaning in business, so you will see "minority shareholding", "minority capital" etc .

However, in your sentence what seems odd is the "minority OF", and it seems to me that minority can act as an adjective ("minority shareholding", "minority capital" ), but in all other circumstances, the countable/non-countable rules applies.

I'm thinking aloud here, so I hope it all makes sense:-)


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pashtet  Identity Verified
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Sorry about the confusion Oct 11, 2007

Well, what I mean is that one has to pay attention to the whole subject of a sentence. My first sentence was "a minority of share capital was listed" where we had a subject made up of 2 components: 1) a minority and 2) of share capital.
Hypothetically, we could imagine a subject that is made up of the same first component (a minority) and a different second component (say, cats) that would require a plural verb (e.g. a minority of cats dislike milk).


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Beatriz Galiano
Argentina
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English question Oct 11, 2007

Paul this would make an interesting English question,why dont you post it for kudos?



[Edited at 2007-10-11 15:54]


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yne
Local time: 07:49
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capital= uncountable Oct 11, 2007

Capital is uncountable; therefore you cannot use the plural verb OR minority..Would you say a minority of milk for example? NO! Or a minority of the money...

"A small amount of" or another phrase would work here instead...Just my thoughts on the matter!


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Binnur Tuncel van Pomeren  Identity Verified
Germany
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Hmmm... Oct 11, 2007

First, the theory:

a minority of (plural noun or capital) =====> plural noun or capital being genitive, they do not interfere with the result.

a minority of people hates

buuuut

"People hate"

As the term "people" is intrinsically plural.

Dear Paul,

Do you agree?

So, I would suggest a minority of cats dislikes for the same reason...

Greetings,

Binnur


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patyjs  Identity Verified
Mexico
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Here's the scoop... Oct 11, 2007

Here's what I found by searching for "minority singular plural". The link is below.


The words majority and minority are used in a variety of ways:
When majority/minority mean an unspecified number more or less than 50%, use a singular verb:

The majority holds no strong views.
A small minority indicates it supports the proposal.
When majority/minority mean a specific percentage, you may use either a singular or a plural verb:

A 75% majority have/has voted against the measure.
A 10% minority are/is opposed to the measure.
When majority/minority refers to a specified set of persons, use a plural verb:

A majority of Canadians have voted for change.
A minority of the students are willing to pay more.

http://www.utoronto.ca/writing/l2agr.html


Best


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Binnur Tuncel van Pomeren  Identity Verified
Germany
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Thank you!!! Oct 11, 2007

So, being critical is the best tool to learn. So, I learned one more thing in this life...

Thank you both!

Warmest regards,

Binnur


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Marcus Malabad  Identity Verified
Canada
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Kudoz Oct 11, 2007

Paul,

For future reference, please post this as an English>English Kudoz question.

Thanks,
Marcus


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pashtet  Identity Verified
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kudos Oct 11, 2007

Marcus Malabad wrote:

Paul,

For future reference, please post this as an English>English Kudoz question.

Thanks,
Marcus


Marcus, sorry, I wasn't aware of this rule. I will certainly keep it in mind next time!


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pashtet  Identity Verified
United States
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capital Oct 11, 2007

yne wrote:

Capital is uncountable; therefore you cannot use the plural verb OR minority..Would you say a minority of milk for example? NO! Or a minority of the money...

"A small amount of" or another phrase would work here instead...Just my thoughts on the matter!


Good point! This basically reiterates Lia's argument (see above). The trouble is that this sentence comes from the text that I am translating for a British customer. Despite the fact that it was written by a native English speaker, there are some mistakes in it. Of course, one has to be condescending to the author - evidently, he is not a linguist...


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yne
Local time: 07:49
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Countable Oct 11, 2007

Overlapped with you Lia! Great minds think alike hey;)

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