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I was told that sums of money take a singular verb. What about the following sentence? Which auxiliary verb should be used?

Eight million dollars have/has been appropriated for research into this strain of the virus.

2 Answers 2

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You were told correctly. "Eighty million dollars" is not to be taken as eighty million separate amounts of one dollar, but as a single amount. "Has" is correct.

Purdue.edu subject-verb agreement

  1. Nouns such as civics, mathematics, dollars, measles, and news require singular verbs. The news is on at six.
    Note: The word dollars is a special case. When talking about an amount of money, it requires a singular verb, but when referring to the dollars themselves, a plural verb is required.
    Five dollars is a lot of money.
    Dollars are often used instead of rubles in Russia.

[Emphasis added]

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  • But I saw "Five million dollars have been appropriated for research into the disease" in Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary.
    – Apollyon
    Dec 16, 2020 at 12:07
  • I consider that expression incorrect. Dec 16, 2020 at 15:18
  • I'd consider this to be a case where both are possible, depending on, as Jack says, whether we are considering it as a singular amount of money, or a plural number of dollars.
    – James K
    Dec 16, 2020 at 16:57
  • Honestly, I think the quoted advice is just wrong. Civics, mathematics, measles, and news are not plurals; they are uncountable nouns that end with the letter s: if Sue has two mathematics and her mother gives her three more mathematics, how many mathematics does she have? Any plural subject can take a singular verb when considered as a unity: four woman is too many to date at once; two meals a day is likely to leave you hungry; three examples is enough. Dec 16, 2020 at 17:05
  • I don't think the reference said they were plural. "Four woman"? Dec 16, 2020 at 17:12
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An American would certainly say “Eight million dollars have been appropriated for research...” The British have a much more expansive sense of when a plural becomes a collective noun, so they might do it differently.

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