I'm currently struggling with whether to use a single or plural verb after an singular noun for the same event that happens multiple times. Example:

The catalyst for these celebrations are/is birthdays.

Or should I just go with "catalysts" (even though I'm referring to the same event happening over and over.)

  • 1
    "Catalyst" and "celebration" are both count nouns.
    – BillJ
    Commented Jan 2, 2023 at 19:48
  • Thank you. Perhaps "noncountable noun" was not the appropriate term. But what is the correct verb in that situation? Should the verb be plural in reference to the word "celebrations" or singular in reference to the word "catalyst"?
    – Scot
    Commented Jan 2, 2023 at 20:15

2 Answers 2


Parse: The catalyst //for these celebrations//is birthdays.

The subject is singular, so the verb should be singular.

for these celebrations is just a prepositional phase going with the subject but not part of it.


Singular, in reference to the subject "catalyst".

You probably want to change the word "birthdays" which seems to be the wrong word to use (but since I don't understand the context, I don't know what word you should use).

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