The S cannot go on BOTH the subject and the verb. Agreement again!

This was the lead sentence for a recent front page article in One Voice, the newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Birmingham in Alabama:

Divisions among  Christians, including on moral issues, weakens their credibility and their ability to respond to the spiritual yearning of many men and women today, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Whoops! Although I think this sentence expresses a good point about today's "gridlock thinking," the grammar is not correct. DIVISIONS (with an S) is plural.  (The basic thought is DIVISIONS AMONG CHRISTIANS WEAKEN THEIR CREDIBILITY….) Therefore, DIVISIONS should take a plural verb, which would be WEAKEN (without an S). The sentence should read this way:

 

Divisions among   Christians  , including on moral issues, weaken their credibility and their ability to respond to the spiritual yearning of many men and women today, Pope Benedict XVI said.

 

 Apparently the headline creator for this newspaper has a better grasp of grammar because the headline uses the correct subject/verb agreement.  It reads this way:

Christian Divisions, Including on Morality, Weaken Witness, Pope Says

 

PLEASE NOTE: My thanks to Ilene (See her comment below.) who spotted my error in this post.  I have made the appropriate correction above.

 


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3 Responses to “The S cannot go on BOTH the subject and the verb. Agreement again!”

  1. Ilene says:

    Your point about subject-verb agreement is correct. However, the subject of the verb weaken is Divisions. The word Christians in this sentence is in the objective case, since it serves as the object of the preposition among. In the objective case, it cannot fill the role of subject. Since the word Divisions is plural, you are correct. The verb must also be in the plural form, i.e., weaken.

  2. admin says:

    Ilene,

    You are absolutely correct, and I should have proofread my comments more carefully before posting them. What I should have said was that DIVISIONS is plural, and then the rest the same. Thank you for pointing this out, and please continue to keep me on my toes! I will correct this as soon as I have a chance.

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