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A third of U.S.'s population is immigrants.

A third of U.S.'s population are immigrants.

I heard that in the Britain it would be different than the US.

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2 Answers 2

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Dig deep to consider the true subject to which all these words are connected and apply some consistency. I’m no English major so I don’t recall all the fancy words that denote the relationship between all these words but here’s my understanding of the application:

“...U.S.'s population is immigrants." — No, not good as-is because of “immigrants” — try: “...U.S.'s population is immigrant." See if it works in your head rearranged. Is there an immigrant population (singular)? Is it as a single, whole entity ⅓ of the larger US population? Here the US population is a single entity with parts and one immigrant piece. Immigrant is used as an adjective. If yes, than this is acceptable.

"A third of U.S.'s population are immigrants." — fine. The population represents many people who “are immigrants.” If the subject is truly the many people of the population(s) who are further discussed. Immigrant is a noun here so the plural matches. The US population isn’t the focus and can be removed to still make sense. If the focus is the people, common sense protects the layman from headaches when reading even though the US population is written as singular.

"A third of U.S.'s populations are immigrants." — not really talking about people. The true subjects are the various populations and sub-populations; However, still acknowledges populations are made of many people.

"A third of U.S.'s populations are immigrant." — Populations are the subject. Immigrant is an adjective to one population.

"A third of U.S.'s populations is immigrants." — No. Just don’t.

Bottom line: look at the rest of the text. What is the focus of the writing? Pick one and be consistent.

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The issue has been debated for over a century.

However, to my ear the second version, illogical as it may be, sounds about right, while the first version is a bit strained (i.e. awkward).

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  • how do i make my first version better? since u said it was strained
    – Redwood
    Jan 11, 2021 at 5:55
  • You shouldn't. Use the second version.
    – Ricky
    Jan 11, 2021 at 14:13

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