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A typographer sent back some corrections:

My sentence: "A second set of motors are attached there".
His correction: "A second set of motors is attached there".

I checked on this site and this site, and both support the typographer's version.

Similarly:

My sentence: "Motions toward the right were restricted".
His correction: "Motions towards the right were restricted".

From my exposure to English, the "is" and the "towards" in these sentences give me a strong feeling that they are wrong. I understand that "a set of motors" is considered one entity, which justifies the "is", but shouldn't we consider the fact that we are talking about a first set of motors and a second set of motors, which makes it two sets, therefore making it plural (and thus justifies the "are")?
Similarly, "motions towards" somehow sounds like butler English, while "motions toward" sounds refined. "Motion towards" would have been ok, but something seems wrong with "Motions towards".

Is my English knowledge bad and do I need to learn some nuances or is my intuition right?

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    Your two questions aren't really similar. Even though a suffix "s" is used to create plurals, the difference between "toward" and "towards" has nothing to do with singular vs. plural.
    – Barmar
    May 5 at 14:34
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    "which makes it two sets, therefore making it plural" -- if you'd said "Two sets of motors are attached there", then you'd use plural. But just because there's another set of motors just next to the one you're pointing at doesn't make that one set plural. (Disregarding plural collective nouns.) Compare e.g. "My car is there in the parking lot, next to the red one" (my car is still just one car, even if there's others in the lot).
    – ilkkachu
    May 6 at 10:22
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The version A second set of motors is attached here. is correct. The subject of "is" is the word "set", a singular noun. The preposition phrase "of motors" describes the set, but the subject is still singular.

As for toward versus towards, that is not a difference in number, but simply one of the spelling and sound of the word.

Merriam-Webster toward or towards?

While toward is more common in American English and towards is more common in British English, there is no etymological reason why this is the case.

So, that one doesn't make any difference, but your typographer may be working with some spelling rules that require towards with an 's'.

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    as a Brit, I will say that whilst I'd generally use "towards" in most cases, it sounds a bit awkward to my ears immediately following "motions" so in this particular case I might use "toward"
    – Tristan
    May 5 at 15:17
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    As another Brit I agree with @Tristan: "motions towards" sounds a bit ungainly to me and I'd prefer "motions toward". And, as rjpond's answer states, in BrE, "a second set ... are attached" is also perfectly valid. There's nothing wrong with either of your sentences, but as a matter of house style, the typographer is not doing anything wrong with changing them, either. May 5 at 18:12
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    @tea-and-cake Wait, does British English not have collective nouns?
    – Daniel
    May 5 at 21:51
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    It does, but with collectives, sometimes we use plural verb forms (eg during a cricket match, it's definitely "England are winning", never "England is winning"), sometimes it's singular, and sometimes we can use either plural or singular verb forms, with subtly different connotations. One standard example used to illustrate it is: "the government is divided" vs "the government are united", in the first case emphasising it's a single entity which is nonetheless without accord; in the latter, it's a group of individuals whose unity is therefore notable. May 5 at 22:54
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    @tea-and-cake - I don't think you can compare the usage of "a team/company/government is treated as plural" & indeed quite common usage, against the simple singular set of multiple motors. If you reduce it to "a set are attached" you'll see it's just plain wrong. May 6 at 8:50
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My sentence: "A second set of motors are attached there".

His correction: "A second set of motors is attached there".

In British English, both versions are correct (because collective nouns such as "set", "group", "team", "club", "committee", "government" can take plural nouns instead of singular ones). In American English, most people would only accept "is", because singular agreement is usually required for collective nouns.

You asked:

shouldn't we consider the fact that we are talking about a first set of motors and a second set of motors, which makes it two sets, therefore making it plural?

No: this is irrelevant. The sentence concerns the second set and only relates to that set.

My sentence: "Motions toward the right were restricted".

His correction: "Motions towards the right were restricted".

In American English, "toward" is five times as common in print as "towards" (M-W Learner's Dictionary). In British English, "towards" is much more common than "toward".

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