Contextual sentence:

Legatus Sollemnis arrived on the Wall at the Rock with the Sixth Legion’s cavalry detachment shortly after darkness fell two nights later.

Problematic sentence (follows the previous one):

The rest of the legion was more than thirty miles back down the road to Yew Grove, encamped after a day slogging their way north at the forced march, and still a day away.

(The source)


Could someone kindly give me the explanation of how come that in one sentence, the Subject "the rest of the legion" agrees with both the singular "was" and plural "their"? Why it's not "slogging its way"?

An addition:

Also, reading the "after a day slogging their way north at the forced march" part I had the feeling that the preposition "of" before "slogging" is missing. Should it be "after a day slogging north" (like "a walk during the whole day") it wouldn't draw my attention, but the pronoun "their" to me personally made that part read somewhat oddly. Please explain to me why there is no preposition there.

  • 1
    The pattern can be {time-phrase} {present participle}. They spent a month hiking the Appalachian Trail. We spent a week auditioning talent. {time}{doing something} On the other hand It was a month of grubbing for food on the deserted island.
    – TimR
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 17:50

1 Answer 1


Number agreement in such cases is often semantic, not strictly grammatical.

The rest of the legion was thirty miles back, slogging their way...

The semantic choice might be explained so: the rest is a cohesive unit in respect to how far back it was, but a group consisting of individual men with legs in respect to the slogging.

This would sound odd to most native speakers:

The rest of the legion was 30 miles back, eating its lunch.

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