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Which is correct (or should I ask which is more correct...?)...

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Question by ishtiaq
Submitted on 8/24/2003
Related FAQ: The alt.usage.english FAQ
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Which is correct (or should I ask which is more correct...?):
"In past years, a minority have voted for..."
"In past years, a minority has voted for..."
and would it be different if I replaced "a" with "the"?

Answer by James
Submitted on 9/10/2003
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I believe the correct phrase would be,
"In past years, the/a minority have voted for..."

Has would only be used for a singular person as in "In the past, John has voted for..."
Presumably, a minority consists of more than one unless it was a mighty small election or unpopular candidate!


Answer by the smartest
Submitted on 9/16/2003
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Your premise is correct, but by using "a" before minority, you have turned minority into a singular entity, which would require has.


Answer by joanna
Submitted on 10/2/2003
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I concur with the smartest. This is a case of subject-verb agreement: minority is a singular noun and thus would take the verb has. In the plural, minorities have.


Answer by Russell
Submitted on 10/23/2004
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"Which is correct" is correct, not "which is more correct" (see below). However to answer your question first, both are correct. A collective noun (such as "minority", "group",  
"(school) class" can take either the singular or plural form of the verb.

Words such as "correct", "unique", "perfect" and a number of other words should not be qualified. You could have asked, "which is better?"


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