Recebi um e-mail de um aluno perguntando por que o verbo está no plural na seguinte frase:

“As is the case currently, a large portion of these are in Africa”

Essa é uma pergunta a respeito de subject-verb agreement. O Oxford Guide to English Grammar define subject-verb agreement como “choosing the correct singular or plural verb after the subject“.

Geralmente, a regra é: sujeito no singular, verbo no singular; sujeito no plural, verbo no plural. Entretanto, há vários casos específicos, como o caso da questão feita.

Quando o sujeito é composto por palavras que indicam porções (percent, fraction, part, majority etc.), é o substantivo – ou o pronome – da of phrase que segue que determina se o verbo deve estar no plural ou no singular. Se o substantivo estiver no singular, o verbo ficará no singular; se o substantivo estiver no plural, o verbo ficará no plural. Veja alguns exemplos, retirados do Grammarbook.com:

Fifty percent of the pie has disappeared.

Fifty percent of the pies have disappeared.

One-third of the city is unemployed.

One-third of the people are unemployed.

Isso já explica por que o verbo em “a large portion of these are in Africa” está no plural: ele está concordando com these, que também está no plural.

Entretanto, é importante notar algumas particularidades com relação a essa regra específica, principalmente no que diz respeito a quantifiersNesse sentido, o Oxford Guide to English Grammar traz algumas regras, as quais eu organizo na tabela que segue:

Expression

Agreement

Examples

One of

Singular

One of these letters is for you.

A number of

The majority of

A lot of

Plural

A large number of letters were received.

The majority of people have complained.

A lot of people have complained.

The number of

Singular

The number of letters we receive is increasing.

Amount of

Singular

A large amount of money was collected.

Amounts of

Plural

Large amounts of money were collected.

(Fractions)

According to the Noun

Three quarters of a potato is water.

Almost half the plants were killed.

Every and each and compounds with

every, some, any and no

 

Singular

Every pupil has to take a test.

Each day was the same as the one before.

Everyone has to take a test.

Someone was waiting at the door.

Nothing ever happens in this place.

Each followed by a plural subject

Plural

The pupils each have to take a test.

All and some with a plural noun

Plural

All the pupils have to take a test.

Some people were waiting at the door.

None of/neither of/either of/any of+ plural noun phrase

Singular or Plural

(Singular is more formal)

None (of the pupils) has/have failed the test.

I don’t know if either (of these batteries) is/are any good.

No

Singular or Plural

No pupil has failed/No pupils have failed the test.

Cheers!

Sources:

Grammarbook.com

Eastwood, John. Oxford Guide To English Grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

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