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I only know the basics of English grammar, and someone just asked me a question that completely stumped me.

"These days, more and more people have mobile phones, and most young people seem to have one."

Why is it acceptable for the object to be "one" when the subject and the verb are both plural?
New Member47
Although there are some languages where verb-object agreement is used, in English the verb agrees in number with the subject, not with the object. In English you have a subject, either singular or plural, and possibly an object, either singular or plural. It doesn't matter which you choose for either subject or object. But when you add the verb into the mix, you make it agree with the subject, not with the object. (It probably turns out that way because you always have a subject, but you don't always have an object.)
In your example, the agreement is shown in the words people seem.
CJ
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Hi Ditch:
Consider a simpler form:
Most families have a TV.
This does not mean that there is one TV shared by a lot of families, but that a large percentage of families each own their own TV.
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So, the verb has to agree in number with the subject, but the object doesn't have to agree in number with the verb? Makes sense. I'd just never thought about the grammar behind sentences like the one I posted. All I remember from school is "make the verb agree with the subject."

Thanks guys.
So, just to clarify, there's no such thing as subject-object agreement or verb-object agreement in English, right?
Ditchthere's no such thing as subject-object agreement or verb-object agreement in English, right?
Right.
Let me know if you find anything that claims otherwise! Emotion: smile
CJ
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Hello again!

I found this exchange on another forum:

A)

I read the following from a well-known book published in .

"Not only do subjects need to agree with their verbs, but they need to agree with their objects as well. So it's incorrect to say the cats have a flea collar, the object must be plural as in the cats have flea collars."

But I have never heard of anything like "subject and object agreement". So could you tell me if this is right? And can't we use sentences like nowadays all computers have an embedded modem, or in case of complement, their principal crop is potatoes or the younger children are a problem?

B)

I'd say that this is more an issue of logic than of grammar. The distinction between singular and plural is important to speakers of English, and in your first example, multiple cats would indeed have multiple collars, so it would sound illogical for you to use the singular "collar" and imply that there was only one collar.

However, if I have 2 children who attend the same school, I would say:
- My children love their school.
If each child attends a different school, I would say:
- My children love their schools.


About your other examples:
- Nowadays all computers have an embedded modem. [You should say, "All computers have embedded modems", though that doesn't make it clear whether or not each computer has only one modem. Here it is best to use the collective form:
- Nowadays every computer has an embedded modem. ]


- Their principal crop is potatoes. [This, of course is fine. It is perfectly logical. ]

- The younger children are a problem. [This is also correct, assuming that you have a single problem. If you wanted to say that each child individually was a problem, you could say, "The younger children are problems."]

As I say, it is a question of logic and what you are trying to communicate, not grammar. But you must use the proper singular or plural form to say what you intend.

A)

Now I see there is no grammar rule like "subject and object agreement", but we should follow logic in determining the number of an object or a complement.

END

“In your first example, multiple cats would indeed have multiple collars, so it would sound illogical for you to use the singular "collar" and imply that there was only one collar."

I don’t see why “have a flea collar” in “The cats have a flea collar” should imply that "there [is] only one collar" when “own a TV” in “Most families own a TV” is understood to mean one TV per family.

Please help me out and choose either 1. or 2.

1. 'B' is wrong. Since "Most families own a TV" is also acceptable, "The cats have a flea collar" is also acceptable.

2. 'B' is right. "The cats have a flea collar" is illogical, but "Most families own a TV" is acceptable because...

If you choose 2., please, please, please finish the sentence.

I've rewritten this part several times now to try to make it clear where my confusion lies. Emotion: embarrassed

Thanks for your time. Emotion: smile
Anyone? Emotion: crying
DitchPlease help me out and choose either 1. or 2.

1. 'B' is wrong. Since "Most families own a TV" is also acceptable, "The cats have a flea collar" is also acceptable.
>> The key word is "most". "The cats have a flea collar." means that there is one flea collar and the cats take turns wearing it. If you say "All cats / most cats / some cats / no cats have a flea collar" then that changes the meaning entirely. It means each cat that qualifies as membership in the "have" group has a flea callar.
All = every cat is in the group; Some = some are in, the others not; no = none are in the group (no flea collars anywhere)

2. 'B' is right. "The cats have a flea collar" is illogical, but "Most families own a TV" is acceptable because...

If you choose 2., please, please, please finish the sentence.

I've rewritten this part several times now to try to make it clear where my confusion lies.

Thanks for your time.
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