Given sentence 'Dogs are my choice', can I use singular verb form for any reason?

  • Yes, if Dogs was a proper noun – user178049 Oct 19 '16 at 12:58
  • Seems like 'dogs' is not proper noun in example provided. – antiplayer Oct 19 '16 at 13:07
  • if that so, dogs is.. is ungrammatical – user178049 Oct 19 '16 at 13:10
  • Why would you even ask this question? – Lambie Oct 19 '16 at 13:21

You can "justify" the singular verb form Dogs is my choice on the grounds that my choice is singular, or by appeal to the use–mention distinction (the reference is to dogs as a single token, not to the plurality of animals represented by that token).

It's not really any different than Fish and chips was my choice in the restaurant or When it comes to sexual preference, my choice is women. As a general tendency, BrE is more flexible in this area than AmE, in that we're more likely to ignore strict logic/grammar, to reflect the semantics of an utterance.

I don't have any problem with...

Speaker A: If your choice is cats and dogs, then choose cats and dogs, but don't run around and wonder what the rabbits are doing.

...after which the following conversation could ensue...

Speaker B: You said "cats and dogs", but I only like dogs, not cats. What should I say my choice is?
Speaker A: Just say "My choice is dogs". Only a misguided pedant would argue with that!
Speaker B: Okay, but can I reorder that to "Dogs is my choice" if I want?
Speaker A: Sure. But even some people who aren't particularly pedantic might not like it much

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  • I agree with the general thrust of your answer, but "my choice is women" is not really the same thing at all, because my choice is the subject of the clause, and is undeniably singular, unlike women or dogs. Personally, I think "my choice is dogs" sounds clashingly wrong, unless we're using that use-mention distinction and, for example, "dogs" was just the label of something. For example, if Alex Trebek says to you, "The categories are ____, ____, and 'dogs'), you could say "My choice is 'dogs'", but it should really be punctuated that way to indicate the distinction. – stangdon Oct 19 '16 at 13:55
  • @stangdon: You're simply confirming the truth of my last line above. No-one is likely to complain about My choice is [plural X], but you're one of those people who objects on syntactic / logical grounds to the reversal [Plural X] is my choice. Me, I consider each example on on its merits, taking semantics into account. Sometimes it's more contextually relevant that there's only one choice; sometimes it's more relevant that the things chosen are a plurality (albeit chosen "collectively"). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Oct 19 '16 at 14:26

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