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I find this idiom very interesting, idiomatic and intuitive but not that grammatical to me. Why should we use meets, the third-person singular simple present sense? Can I change it to any other senses?

For instance in this sentence from idioms.thefreedictionary.com:

A hidden significance, greater than is first apparent, as in this agreement involves more than meets the eye.

can the meets be changed to meet if I make the following changes(make the singular a plural)?

A hidden significance, greater than is first apparent, as in these agreements involve more than meet the eye.

Is the following also grammatical?

A hidden significance, greater than is first apparent, as in these agreements involve more than meets the eye.

Or it is independent of all other elements in the sentence and fixed?

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  • I'd use the singular "involves" here, which matches up with the singular subject "a hidden significance".
    – BillJ
    May 18, 2019 at 13:01

1 Answer 1

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  1. Because it is an idiom, and we do not "adapt" idioms.

  2. If I am not wrong,

more than meets the eye

is the shorter form of

more than what meets the eye

Since "what" has the value of a singular, it requires a verb in singular, even if it ("what") is missing.

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    Roughly. I would say, rather, that "more" is a here a pronoun, and is singular.
    – Colin Fine
    May 18, 2019 at 13:38

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