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

Ann Burlingham ann at BURLINGHAMBOOKS.COM
Wed Nov 12 15:50:06 UTC 2008

On Wed, Nov 12, 2008 at 10:35 AM, Benjamin Zimmer
<bgzimmer at babel.ling.upenn.edu> wrote:

> MWDEU, though hardly doctrinaire in its prescriptivism, is pretty clear on this
> one: "The phrase _many a_ is followed by a singular noun, and when that noun is
> the subject of a verb, a singular verb."
> It adds: "But pronoun reference, when it occurs, is governed by notional
> agreement and may thus be plural or singular." That suggests the possibility of
> "Many a X" with a singular verb and a plural pronoun, though MWDEU doesn't give
> any examples of this.

I have no help to offer, now being stuck with an earworm of "Many a new day."

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list