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This is one of the hesitating conditions in which I cannot tell for sure. Should I change "have been" to "has been"?

It has long been established that adverse drivers’ behavior, including behavior relating to distracted driving, propensities for risk-taking, and disregard for traffic rules, have been critical determinants with regard to the likelihood of a vehicle crash.

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  • If you disregard the supplemental NP "including behavior relating to distracted driving, propensities for risk- taking, and disregard for traffic rules", (which has no effect on the verb) you are left with the singular NP "adverse drivers' behaviour' which requires the singular verb-form "has". You will of course have to change plural "critical determinants" to singular "a critical determinant"
    – BillJ
    Sep 8, 2016 at 14:28
  • @BillJ I see. Thanks. a quick question. do u think pluralizing "behavior" make this all right?
    – Sajjad
    Sep 8, 2016 at 14:31
  • Yes, but why change it? It's quite alright as it is, and perhaps more natural than using plural "behaviors".
    – BillJ
    Sep 8, 2016 at 15:08
  • There are all kinds of problems in this sentence. This is one possible fix, but there are certainly other ways to get there, "Adverse driver behaviors, including those related to distracted driving, a propensity for risk-taking, and a disregard for traffic rules, have been crucial to determining the likelihood of a vehicle crash"
    – Phil Sweet
    Sep 9, 2016 at 21:43

1 Answer 1

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Has been. The head of the noun phrase “adverse drivers’ behavior, including behavior relating to distracted driving, propensities for risk- taking, and disregard for traffic rules” (which is the subject of your clause), is the singular noun behavior.

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  • I can see your point clearly. however, to be specific, my concern is that drivers' behaviour + "has been" do not go with "determinants". It looks awkward: "drivers' behviour, including ......, has been critical determinants.
    – Sajjad
    Sep 8, 2016 at 13:55
  • I can change behviour to "behaviours" and relieves us of any trouble; however, plural form of behaviour is rarely used, if used at all of course.
    – Sajjad
    Sep 8, 2016 at 13:58
  • I understand your concern, but verbs must agree in number and person with the head of the subject, not with its dependents, even when the verb immediately follows the dependents, as is the case in your sentence.
    – J. Siebeneichler
    Sep 8, 2016 at 14:19

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