I'm wondering which one is correct:

A bag of apples weighs 25 pounds.

A bag of apples weigh 25 pounds.

A bowl of noodles is enough.

A bowl of noodles are enough.

I'm confused, should I take ‘a bag of apples’ as a whole thing and use a singular verb, or put the emphasis on the amount of apples and use a plural verb.

  • 3
    If you're not sure about the form of the verb, try to remove descriptive elements from the sentence, such as "of apples", so you're left with "A bag weighs 25 pounds."
    – Melon Dusk
    Commented Jun 1, 2021 at 5:50

2 Answers 2

  1. The apples [in each bag] weigh 25 lbs
  2. Each bag [of apples] weighs 25 lbs.
  3. A bag of apples weighs 25 lbs

The subject "a bag of apples" requires the singular verb. Likewise the item that contains the noodles, which could be a bowl, a pot, a packet, a box etc. if it is singular the verb that follows must also be singular

  1. A bowl of noodles is enough
  2. Two bowls [of noodles] are enough.

I believe it should go with the singular form, when the quantifier is single, such as a set of, a bag of. However, if the quantifier is plural, for instance, sets of, the verb followed is plural.

  • Precisely, 'a bag of ...' and 'a bowl of' ... are pseudo-partitives subset container structures [Matushansky et al], not the metaphorical look-alikes fuzzy quantifiers (piles of money, shedloads of ambition ...). Admittedly, quantities are still not being precisely measured in pseudo-partitives. However, with container pseudo-partitives, the container noun (bag, bowl, glass, cup, amphora, barrel ...) is what governs agreement. A bag of apples weighs ... but Two bags of apples weigh .... Commented Jun 1, 2021 at 15:02

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