python vs c#

Alex Martelli aleaxit at
Fri Oct 1 08:56:39 CEST 2004

Jan Dries <jan.dries at> wrote:
> IIRC from back when I was in school (long time ago), both forms are correct.
> At least in Dutch. Strictly spoken it should be "a few is enough" or "a
> number of people has died". But the plural form is also accepted, and it is

The Dutch are wondefully pragmatic...

> called (with an expensive Latin term) "constructio ad sensum", i.e. you

...and so were the Latins.

> conjugate the verb in accordance with what the word represents, rather than
> with what it grammatically is. 

In Italian, this kind of freedom holds only for a few specific "idioms
of collectivity" -- "un certo numero di persone", "una grande quantita`
di persone", "la maggioranza delle persone".  And even then, in many
subcases, it depends on whether the verb expresses a collective action
or a plurality of individual actions (some cases remain ambiguous).

A rea-life example...: "La maggioranza degli italiani vive in un
appartamento" ("A majority of Italians lives in an apartment", with the
verb in the singular form) was once stated on TV by a politician and led
to universal derision and unending jokes (even among his political
allies) about how crowded that one apartment must be; in this case he
should have said "vivono in appartamenti" ("live in apartments"), with
the verb (and apartments;-) in the plural form.  I suspect that this
particular example does carry over to some other languages;-).


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