why cannot assign to function call

Tim Roberts timr at probo.com
Wed Dec 31 08:39:59 CET 2008


Aaron Brady <castironpi at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>I think the problem goes deeper than just English.  In any language
>that has a plural, the propositions in question come out as, 'one
>thing is two things' or 'two things are one thing'.  According to some
>rules, these are ungrammatical sentences, due to plurality
>disagreement.  Ex:
>
>The Morning Star is ...
>The Evening Star is ...
>*The Morning Star and The Evening Star is...
>*The Morning Star and The Evening Star are...
>
>Neither of the latter two is correct.  (* marks ungrammatical.)   As
>such, the listener isn't sure what meaning to take.

This is taking a serious twist into off-topicness, but I need to dispute
this.  I will assert that the 4th line is, in fact, grammatically correct,
modulo the capitalization of the second "The".  The fragment is clearly of
the form "X and Y are...", and regardless of the substitution of X and Y,
the plurality of the subject agrees with the verb.

  The Morning Star and the Evening Star are bright tonight.

Ignoring the fact that we can't see both at the same time, why is the
meaning of that unclear?
-- 
Tim Roberts, timr at probo.com
Providenza & Boekelheide, Inc.



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