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Are both of these statements acceptable grammatically?

Receiving homemade cupcakes make me feel special.

Receiving homemade cupcakes makes me feel special.

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The formal and traditional answer is makes, because the subject is the singular noun phrase receiving homemade cupcakes.

In actual speech, and even sometimes in writing, many people say make, under the influence of the more recent plural noun cupcakes.

I would recommend saying makes, but be prepared to hear make.

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  • I don't think this is right. Ignoring the potentially (to nns, not native speakers) distracting adjective, you're suggesting that native speakers might come out with things like Receiving guests make me nervous, or Eating raw meat make you sick. I'd say we never make that kind of mistake. Jul 3 '20 at 14:29
  • @FumbleFingersReinstateMonica: I don't think the adjective is irrelevant, because it separates the singular subject even further from the verb. I'm sure people do do this, though I'm hard-pressed to think of a way of searching for it. Your raw meat example doesn't work, because meat isn't plural.
    – Colin Fine
    Jul 3 '20 at 15:38
  • I realised as soon as I posted the comment that my meat example wasn't quite right. I'd actually intended to write sausages, but being such a terrible speller I bottled it and just substituted the first easy-to-spell "synonym" that came to mind. Whatever - I know you know more about linguistics in general than me, but I still find it hard to believe that many/any "normal" native speakers would get the plurality wrong in the context we're talking about here, "distracting" adjectives notwithstanding. Jul 4 '20 at 13:06
  • ...I'd have thought full-time professional linguists would long ago have identified specific aspects of syntax (in various languages, not just English) that commonly cause problems for non-native speakers, but which the actual natives very rarely get wrong. In fact, I might ask about this on SO linguistics, because it seems likely to me there could be some insights there (with different types of syntax error being more or less likely to affect the native speakers of different languages, as well as nns). Jul 4 '20 at 13:11

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