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Which verb form should be used with names of subjects ending in "studies" – that is, for instance, subjects such as "religious studies", "literary studies", and so on? The plural form of "studies" makes me think the verb should be plural, but the singular sense of 'subject' makes me think it should be singular... I've tried googling, but haven't arrived at any conclusive answer, so I'd really appreciate your input here :)

Edit: Ok, I see now that I was not at all clear in my OP – I do appologise for this! What I was wondering was simply whether I should use a singular or a plural verb with a (grammatical) subject in the form of "Literary/religious/... studies". That is, what I was wondering was which of the following is correct:

  1. Religious studies constitute a broad field...

  2. Religious studies constitutes a broad field...

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  • to study: [name of field]. You might try and be more specific. To study religion but to undertake religious studies.
    – Lambie
    Feb 27, 2023 at 21:34

2 Answers 2

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I prefer "Religious Studies is a course at school" to "...are..."

If used in this sense, I'd capitalise it (as the name of the course).

Wikipedia agrees (but doesn't capitalise):

Today, religious studies is an academic discipline practiced by scholars worldwide

As does California University:

Religious Studies is a multidisciplinary field of study

If not being used as a course name, I'd prefer "study of religion" to avoid the issue. But if you keep "religious studies" in the generic sense then use "are".

Religious studies are an important part of the education at St Hugh's.

(This isn't the name of the course, but synonymous with "the study of religion".)

But there is clearly variation, and both may be considered "acceptable".

A similar argument can be made for a course called "Ethics" or "Mathematics". You treat these as singular, as the name of the course.

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  • Excellent answer as always! Thank you so much! I never thought of checking Wikipedia... I feel pretty stupid now...
    – Gerda
    Feb 27, 2023 at 22:13
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The verbal form of studies generally is not used in English.

For example, though the word geologize has been listed, Ngram shows a peak occurrence of 0.0000007% (about 1 citation in 109, if I've counted decimals correctly) in the 1850's.

Theologize at 0.000002% (about 2 citation in 108, with same caveat), has become more "popular", if you'll accept gross distortion of that term.

As for literary studies, neither literize nor literalize have anything to do with the process of studying literature. If anyone has a suggestion for a verbal form, please edit this or add a comment!

Philosophize is more common, and can mean "active in studying philosophy,", but more often, describes reasoning in the manner of a philosopher. E.G., Michel de Montaigne (Florio, transl.): "Cicero saith, that to Philosophise is no other thing than for a man to prepare himselfe to death."

Rather than stretch the language by using theses studies as verbs, one would would be more likely to say. "I study geology," or "I'm learning philosophy."

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  • Not an answer to my question, but that's in no way your fault – seeing how unclear my OP was, this could very well have been a great answer, so I've upvoted it :)
    – Gerda
    Feb 27, 2023 at 22:14

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