The rigors isn’t??

Grammar Glitch returns once more to subject/verb agreement.  Here is a sentence that appeared in an article about the recent Secret Service scandal:

The agency enjoys vaunted prestige in American popular culture, but the rigors of a protective detail–jet-setting the globe at a moment's notice to protect a dignitary, being on-call around the clock–isn't for everyone.

 

Whoops! The subject of the second part of this sentence (after BUT) is RIGORS, which is plural.  No matter how much wording appears between the dashes, the verb for that part of the sentence is ISN'T, which is singular.  It should be AREN'T to go with RIGORS.

NOTE: The phrase ON CALL is written as two separate words that are not hyphenated like JET-SETTING.

The sentence should read this way:

The agency enjoys vaunted prestige in American popular culture, but the rigors of a protective detail–jet-setting the globe at a moment's notice to protect a dignitary, being on call around the clock–aren't for everyone.

 

  A note of welcome to those who participated in my Advanced Business Writing workshops in Troy, Mobile, and Tuscumbia the past two weeks. Note the usage of hyphens and dashes in the example sentence above. We covered this in the workshop.

 

 

  

 

 


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2 Responses to “The rigors isn’t??”

  1. Carolyn Beears says:

    Hi Ruth! 
    I'd sure like to know where to go to find out which words do use the hyphen and which words do not.
    It seems kind of arbitrary to me.  Can't always find them in the dictionary either. 
    Carolyn 

  2. admin says:

    Hi, Carolyn

    “Arbitrary” is a good word. What to hyphenate is always an evolving thing. For example, if you went to a garage sale and bought a set of encyclopedias from the 1950s, you’d see the compound VICE-PRESIDENT always written with a hyphen. Today, virtually no one does that. Also, when the word E-MAIL first became popular, it was always hyphenated, but not so much today. Besides the rule that all compound numbers from TWENTY-ONE to NINETY-NINE are hyphenated, it is hard to find any “set in stone” rules for which words are hyphenated. I try to watch usage in print or Google respected publications when I come across a word I’m not sure about. Here is a list of words that I hyphenate now when they come before what they describe: MONTH-END, ONE-DAY, TIME-CONSUMING, TWO-WEEK, THREE-YEAR, TWO-YEAR-OLD. Note, of course, that when compound terms come after what they modify, the hyphens are omitted, as in TIME-CONSUMING CHORES, but CHORES ARE TIME CONSUMING.

    Hope that helps!

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