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Within these pages is/are the who’s who in our community.

My question is which verb is correct- "is" or "are" and why.

  • "are" is the correct one I think, because of the word "community" which means there is more than one person. Also I think the sentence starts like this "The people within these pages are the...." – Raj 33 Jan 13 '18 at 15:08
  • The idiomatic form Who's Who is effectively a (singular) "book title", similar to, for example, The Bible. Your sample text is thus inherently awkward because it creates an unavoidable "plurality clash" - as with [Within/in] these pages is/are the Bible of how to learn English. You'd do better to abandon the construction completely, and go for something like These pages are the Who's Who of modern linguistics, This book is the Bible of learning English. – FumbleFingers Jan 13 '18 at 16:51
  • "Community" is a group noun. "This community is poor" is correct, and "the community are poor" is incorrect. – Jeff Morrow Jan 13 '18 at 16:53
  • @Jeff: That may be so in AmE, but so far as I'm concerned (as a Brit), the plurality of the community (like the company and the family) is "contextually flexible". I've no problem with County Councillor Ros Binks said: “Nobody objected to housing on the site, but the community were united in their campaign to prevent a cramped and poorly designed development with little consideration for the unique setting or its residents.” – FumbleFingers Jan 13 '18 at 17:03
  • @FumbleFingers Yes, British English and American English differ in their usage with respect to group nouns or at least some group nouns. Thank you. I should have made that clear. I cannot say how the British treat lists. It is certainly not grammatical in American English to say "My shopping list for today contain many items." Perhaps it is grammatical in Britain; I have never been there. – Jeff Morrow Jan 13 '18 at 17:17
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"Who's who" is a description of a kind of list and sometimes the legal title of such a list. Although the list contains information about multiple people, it is a single list. The technically correct verb is "is" rather than "are."

Moreover, the sentence asked about is incorrect whatever verb is chosen.

"Within these pages is the "Who's Who" of our community" is correct if what is intended to be referenced is the trademarked publication known by that name.

"Within these pages is a "who's who" of our community" and "Within these pages is a who's who of our community" are correct (though the first is preferable) if what is intended to be described is a list performing the same function as the trademarked publication.

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“Are” is the correct one because it refers to the “who’s who” - multiple people not just one in the community

  • Hmm. "Who's who" seems to be a contraction of "who is who," which seems to refer to a single individual. "Family," "class" and "community" are all examples of group nouns, which are conceived as single entities although comprising multiple individuals. – Jeff Morrow Jan 13 '18 at 17:06
  • FumbleFingers has pointed out correctly that British English has more complex usages with respect to group nouns than was indicated by my previous comment. – Jeff Morrow Jan 13 '18 at 17:20

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