Grammar: She is one of those gifted writers who turn out one best seller after another. Why is it turn instead of turns? Isn't the subject singular?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

My understanding is that deterimining whether or not the group is singular or plural relies on the actions of the group's members. (This is also how I teach it to my 11th and 12th grade students.) If the members of the group are all acting as one, a singluar verb is required. For example: "The orchestra IS meeting in Room 220." If, however, the group members are doing a number of different things, a plural verb form is required: "The orchestra ARE meeting in Rooms 102 and 220." We hear it on the news all the time with jury decisions. "The jury WAS unanimous in the decision to convict Mr. Smith." When they disagree, though, the sentence changes to "The jury WERE in two different camps when it came to a verdict. Three believed Mr. Smith was guilty while nine felt he was innocent."

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Tricky sentence construction! The problem phrase in your sentence is who turn out one best seller after another. This phrase is referring to those gifted writers, which is a plural subject. Therefore, the use of turn, the plural form of the verb, is correct.

The problem phrase is called a restrictive appositive. An apposition is a construction that uses two noun phrases next to each other with one phrase adding information about the other. Your sentence tells us that she is a gifted writer; it tells us that she belongs to a group of writers who author repeated best sellers. As a restrictive appositive, the problem phrase is critical to the meaning of the sentence and is not separated from the other phrase with a comma.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial