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"Fewer cavalry officers than infantry officers become Brigadiers but a higher proportion of Brigadiers from cavalry go on to become/becomes Generals."

"A large number of civil servants is/are corrupt."

I think in the first sentence 'becomes' is correct and in the second sentence 'are' is correct just because both sound right. But can somebody please explain the rule? In the first sentence the subject is 'a higher proportion of officers' but the plural form of verb sounds right. Similarly in the second sentence, the subject is 'a large number of civil servants' but again the plural form of verb sounds right.

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  • The verbal idiom "go on" requires an infinitival clause as complement, not a finite (tensed) one, so agreement is not an issue in your first example. In your second example, "lot" is said to be 'number-transparent', so the number of the noun that is complement of the preposition "of" determines the number of the whole NP. In this case the plural NP "civil servants" thus requires the plural verb "are".
    – BillJ
    Jul 23 at 18:30
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To become is an infinitive complement of "go on" and so must have the base form "become"

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    I agree with the comment, James. The verbal idiom "go on" requires an infinitival clause as complement, not a finite tensed one, so agreement is not an issue.
    – BillJ
    Jul 23 at 18:23

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