Letter: Language is beyond grammar

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The Independent Online
Sir: Peter Brodie (Letters, 28 August) mentions "tarring and feathering is too good for him" as an example where we use a singular verb because "tarring and feathering" is seen as a singular subject. But what about this: "More than one person is present"? Here we have a subject that is explicitly plural, with a singular verb.

Face it, grammar is our attempt to describe how we use the language, but our explanations are not always up to it.

NORMAN PATERSON

Anstruther, Fife

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