How many cars the company has are not important for the company's financial

Could you please clarify, is "How many cars the company has" the subject of the sentence above?

I am confused a bit.

  • This "sentence" does not appear to be grammatical or complete. Can you share where you found it and check that you have copied all of it correctly? – Tyler James Young Mar 18 '14 at 18:32
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    @Hakan I think it's debatable, but to me "How many cars the company has is not important for ..." sounds better. It would make me wait for the next sentence; something like "What's important is ...". – Damkerng T. Mar 18 '14 at 18:33

As Tyler James Young points out, the sentence is incomplete: there is a noun or NP missing at the end, something like:

... not important for the company's financial strength, or status, or balance sheet.

Otherwise, yes: [How many cars the company has] is the subject of the sentence. It is, however, a singular subject, a quantity, not a plural one, so the sentence should read

How many cars the company has is not important for the company's financial whatever-it-is.

Jolenealaska asks why it is singular, which is a very good question. How many cars the company has does not stand for the expression X cars, which would be plural, it stands for just the number, one number, which is singular. Imagine a conversation between the owner of the company and the accountant:

ACCT: Now here, opposite 'fleet', you have entered '12'.
OWN:  Right, we have twelve cars! Up from ten last year!
ACCT: That is not important. How many you have is not important. Bob, you imbecile, I tell you this every year: the Internal Revenue Service doesn't care how many cars you have. They want to know the value of your fleet.

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  • I started to say that, but deleted my answer because I couldn't say why. Yes, it's singular, but how? – Jolenealaska Mar 18 '14 at 18:46
  • I actually made it up :p, because I am studying sentence forms by creating an affirmative sentence starting with "how many" – Hakan Mar 18 '14 at 18:50
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    You can ask, "How many is too many?" You use is because "how many" is singular as a subject. I'm a native speaker, but I don't know why that's singular. I just know that it is. – Jolenealaska Mar 18 '14 at 18:55
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    MBA types sometimes refer to a company's financial status as "the company's financials". I've never heard this used in the singular, "the company's financial", but then I'm not an MBA. (Thank you, God.) – Jay Mar 18 '14 at 21:00
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    @Jay I thought of including that but decided I should not be party to corrupting our students. – StoneyB on hiatus Mar 18 '14 at 21:32

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