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Help please!

(5 Posts)
permaquandry Fri 21-Mar-14 22:41:15

The use of 'are' and 'if' confuse me, is it:-

'There is so many things going on in my head'. Or is it 'there are so many things......'?

'Things' being a plural, suggesting more than one, so I assume it's 'are'. However, it is 'there is so much stuff going on in my head' but 'stuff' suggests a multiple of 'things' so why is it different?

Also, I was taught to put punctuation outside a bracket, so is this correct if placed at the end of a sentence?:- (I'd forgotten all about that!).


DadDadDad Sat 22-Mar-14 00:29:12

It looks totally sensible to me to put that exclamation mark inside the bracket.

If the bracket is part of a sentence and comes at the end I think it looks logical to put the full stop outside the bracket (as I have in this sentence).

(On the other hand, if the whole sentence is inside brackets, surely it's reasonable to put stop inside, like this.)

(But if you did it this way, I don't see what's wrong with that). Actually, that looks a little less odd, but then raises the question of whether it's consistent with the following.

(If I ask a question, surely we agree the punctuation comes inside?)

Main thing is to choose whatever helps the reader and then stick to it consistently.

pandapens Sun 23-Mar-14 00:27:13

The use of is/are depends on whether the word itself is singular or plural - don't worry about the meaning of the word. It is correct to say "there are so many things..." and "there is so much stuff...".

It gets into a bit of a grey area when using words which are singular but which refer to a group of people - eg government, staff. I think it is technically correct to say, for example, "The staff is allowed to use this room", but "The staff are allowed to use this room" sounds more natural to me. (I think American English is actually more strict on using "is" in these cases.)

I would agree that if the whole sentence is inside brackets then the punctuation should also be within the brackets, as it's ending that sentence and it makes no sense for it to be separated. If it's part of a larger sentence, then the full stop (or exclamation mark etc) should be outside of the brackets as the full stop is ending that whole larger sentence not just the bit in brackets. (Hope that makes sense!)

prism Sun 23-Mar-14 15:46:09

I think the thing about "staff" is that it's pretty unlikely to be made a plural- I can't see anyone saying "staffs", unless they were talking about sticks of wood, or about the north Midlands and had lost their shift key. Even if you were referring to all the teachers in all the schools in Stoke, you'd probably say "the staff of the schools in Stoke", not "staffs". So "staff" is always a collective noun, and only sounds right with "are". But people do talk about "governments", so it sounds OK with "is" and with "are".

Cooroo Tue 25-Mar-14 23:08:48

Groups of people can be treated as singular or plural depending on whether they are acting as a unit or as individuals.

The board has decided to change the rules.
The staff are arguing amongst themselves.

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