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I've just read this and thought it sounds a bit weird: "There was no significant difference in the rates of sepsis, shock, surgical wound infection...in dementia patients compared with non-dementia patients"

I do realize that the author was applying "was" to "difference". However, should the author have applied it to "rates" instead? --> "There were no significant difference(s?) in the rates of sepsis, shock, surgical wound infection...in dementia patients compared with non-dementia patients"

In addition, should it be "difference" or "differences"?

Thank you for your kind attention.

Howard

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  • The only thing I find awkward about the sentence is the lack of an or before surgical wound infection. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Aug 15 '18 at 19:17
  • It's a list and I didn't include all the complications. – howardck Aug 15 '18 at 19:59
  • Yup, it's a bit weird. It's an awkward jumble of a comparison with multiple issues. Swapping between for the first in makes this a bit more digestible tense-wise. You left out some important diagnostic words though. Was there an and or an or at the end of the list? – Phil Sweet Aug 27 '18 at 2:15
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Both are fine so if you feel uneasy with "difference in the rates" you can use "differences in the rates" as well.

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The difference in verbs (from singular was to plural were does not change what the verb "points" to--the noun differences. And since the verb is plural, so must the noun be plural, differences. Changing the verb doesn't change the subject from differences to rates. You'd have to rewrite the sentence so that rates was the subject.

  • Since we're talking about multiple comparisons, shouldn't we use plural (were) rather than singular (was). Or would the lack of significant difference in all comparisons enable the use of singular here? Also, is "difference" a group noun in the original sentence? – howardck Aug 15 '18 at 20:04

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