6

Recently while writing the title of a question, I encountered trouble when choosing the correct grammatical syntax from the followings:

  • Do any philosophy believe that..?
  • Does any philosophy believe that...?

I felt using philosophies and/or believes would not be correct in any case. However, if they can be applied, suggest them also.

16

The subject in both sentences is "philosophy," which is singular.

The verb in both sentences is in the present tense. Singular, third person verbs in the present tense (except for modals) terminate in "s" or "es." Subject and verb must agree in number. Therefore your first example "do any philosophy believe" is not correct whereas your second example "does any philosophy believe" is correct.

It would be correct to say "Do any philosophies believe" because now you have a plural subject, "philosophies," and a plural verb form.

It is confusing that plural nouns typically end in 's' whereas singular, third person verbs in the present tense end in 's."

You are correct that "believes" would be incorrect with either "do" or "does." When using an auxiliary verb plus an infinitive, it is the auxiliary that is inflected (changed) to indicate person or tense.

Finally, what is perhaps a personal point of style. I do not like "believe" in this context. People and perhaps some kinds of animal may hold beliefs, but a philosophy is not a person. A philosophy can teach or propound propositions, but the philosophy itself cannot believe propositions. I admit that people do say things like "Christianity believes," to mean "Christians believe" or "Christianity teaches." So your use of "believe" is not wrong. It is just not the best word available.

|improve this answer|||||
  • 2
    Personally, I would go with "Does any philosophy hold that..." or "Do any philosophies hold that...". Again, it comes down to personal preference. – Sean Henderson Dec 12 '17 at 20:26
  • 1
    As a note, an easy way to check is to reverse the sentence. You wouldn't say "One philosophy do." nor "Two philosophies does". They can be translated differently to "One philosophy does, and two philosophies do." – Anoplexian - Reinstate Monica Dec 12 '17 at 22:23
2
  • Your second sentence is correct, as 'does' is a third person singular verb*. You are talking that sentence as though it was in third person, so therefore it is correct.
  • Your first sentence, however is incorrect. You should either replace the 'do' with 'does', or you should change 'philosophy' into 'philosophies'. This is because 'do' is a verb, (verbs describe an action) as opposed to the sentence being structured in a third person.

"Do any philosophies believe that..?

|improve this answer|||||

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.