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Which is correct?

  1. Following Tim's recommendations in the past has not led to good outcomes.
  2. Following Tim's recommendations in the past have not led to good outcomes.
  • recommendations are plural, so they either have or haven't led to good outcomes. It's irrelevant that the recommendations came from Tim, who happens to be singular (so you could say Tim has made some poor recommendations, or that Listening to Tim has not always been successful). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jul 24 '17 at 16:31
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    @FumbleFingers - However, it is not the recommendations that are the subject of the sentence, but the act of following them. The singular act of following recommendations is what has not led to good outcomes; therefore, Following Tim's recommendations in the past has not led to good outcomes.. – Jeff Zeitlin Jul 24 '17 at 17:01
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    @FumbleFingers - Tim's recommendations have not led to good outcomes., however - the difference is that now the subject is Tim's recommendations, plural, rather than the singular act of following them. – Jeff Zeitlin Jul 24 '17 at 17:03
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    @Jeff Zeitlin: You're quite right - I didn't read the examples properly. But everything I said in the comment is true, and I did include a valid example with a gerund (listening) used as a singular subject, so I'll leave the comment there. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jul 24 '17 at 17:14
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This sentence is an example of a gerund phrase. Gerund phrases act in the sentence as nouns, and are treated as singular in number. Therefore, the gerund phrase Following Tim's recommendations in the past takes a singular verb, has, giving Following Tim's recommendations in the past has not led to good outcomes.

If, however, the phrase had omitted the gerund, and was Tim's recommendations in the past, you would then have a plural noun, recommendations, and as such would take the plural verb, have, giving Tim's recommendations in the past have not led to good outcomes.

  • Jeff Zetlin, I believe you are correct. The gerund phrase is singular and must take the verb has. A similar example exists in Betty Azar's Chartbook: :Riding horses is fun. – user242899 Jul 24 '17 at 20:08

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