Someone in a local forum argues that 'a handful' is a quantifying noun and therefore it is correct to say 'lives' instead of 'live' in
"Only a handful still lives in their villages."

I think it should be 'live' instead of 'lives'.
How about "Only a handful of villagers still live/lives in their villages."?

I surf online but cannot find much about "quantifying noun".

Thank you.
Full Member270
My ear seems to accept both! But I think I prefer the plural handful of villagers live.
CJ
Veteran Member53,387
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Thank you, CJ

Can anyone please tell me something about quantifying nouns?
Anonymous:
Well, if I'm right, 'a handful' is a unit noun, just like 'a grain', 'a loaf', 'a cup' etc. they are usually provided with a preposition 'of', while quantifying nouns express a numeric quantity i.e. 'a dozen', 'hundred' etc. (when they're repeated they can be used in plural). I guess that it should definitely fit for the "Only a handful of villagers still live in their villages." sentence. On the other hand unit nouns are usually used with Uncountable nouns to split undifferentiated mass. So it might be used as a quantifier, but I don't know if quantifiers can express not exact number... Hope that helped, though I doubt it Emotion: big smileDD
Anonymous:
Here http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/determiners/determiners.htm you can find some notes on quantifiers.
Anonymous:
Someone in a local forum argues that 'a handful' is a quantifying noun and therefore it is correct to say 'lives' instead of 'live' in
"Only a handful still lives in their villages."

I think it should be 'live' instead of 'lives'.
How about "Only a handful of villagers still live/lives in their villages."?

Yes, it is a quantificational noun (not a determinative) in your example, but the plural live is the correct verb form. In your first example, the of preposition phrase that would normally be complement to handful has been ellipted, but we can reasonably assume that it's of people, or as you suggest in your second example, of villagers. The reason the correct verb form is the plural live is simply this: people and villagers are plural nouns. In other words, it's not the singular quantificational noun handful that is determining the form of the verb, but the plural noun people (or villagers) that is complement to the preposition of:

Only [a handful of people/villagers] still live in their villages.

The notable thing about quantificational nouns is that they can occur in the singular as head of a noun phrase whose number for agreement purposes is determined by a smaller noun phrase embedded within it. Here are some more examples with the quantificational nouns lot, rest and number:

a. [A lot of money] was wasted. ~ [A lot of things] were wasted.
b. [The rest of the meat] is over there. ~ [The rest of the eggs] are over there.
c. [A number of faults] were found. ~ Singular not possible

In the first pair notice that the quantificational noun is the singular lot in both cases, but the form of the verb depends on the underlined noun. Money is a singular noun, so the verb form is the singular was, but the noun things is plural, so the verb form is the plural were.

Similarly, in the second pair with the singular quantificational noun rest: meat is a singular noun so the verb is the singular is. But eggs is a plural noun so the verb is the plural are.

In the third example, the meaning of number is such that it cannot take a singular noun (*A number of money was found).

Other similar quantificational nouns include lots, remainder, couple, plenty, deal, loads, stacks, oodles, heaps, dozens, scores, tens, hundreds, thousands and so on.

Does that help?

J
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