"many a" -- singular or plural? Or just awkward?

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Wed Nov 12 14:19:45 UTC 2008

In the NYTimes Thursday, Nov. 6, Alessandra Stanley wrote (in
"Cheers, Tears and a Sense of the Historic Moment"), "There was many
a confessional detour, from Dan Rather reminiscing ... to the former
White House adviser David Gergin describing ...".

This seems awkward, when "there were many confessional detours" is
available (and uses the same number of keystrokes).

Asking the prescriptivists:  Is "many a" singular or plural?  (Google
has a mixed opinion, e.g. for "is/are" and "has been/have been" "many a".


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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