All, Which one is correct: "statistical techniques is " or "statistical techniques are"

I Googled "statistical techniques is" and also "statistical techniques are" to find if any of those names are being used, and I found many results. It seems that both are being used. Am I right? Thanks

  • 3
    Whether you put an adjective like statistical in front of the noun techniques doesn't affect the fact that it's a plural noun. You're probably finding singular instances in contexts like The use of statistical techniques is not recommended, where the subject is singular use, not plural techniques. You have to look at the words in context. Commented Feb 23 at 16:34
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    "Statistical techniques" is not a compound noun, but a noun phrase consisting of the head (main) word "techniques" modified by the adjective "statistical". Since the head of the noun phrase is the plural noun "techniques", it follows that the verb should be the plural "are".
    – BillJ
    Commented Feb 23 at 17:57
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    Please edit to tell about the context that these would be used in. I could imagine: "Statistical Techniques is my favorite class." But not "Statistical techniques is important to know." Commented Feb 23 at 18:55
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    But note, that has nothing to do with compounds. It's just that we often use plurals as singulars when discussing fields of study, like "analytics" or "mathematics" or "Goethe studies." Commented Feb 23 at 18:56
  • Voting to close as unclear until edited Commented Feb 23 at 20:45

1 Answer 1


Generally, compound nouns are recognised as singular or plural by the core noun (in English, the last word).

We would say "a statistical technique", so "statistical techniques" is plural.

It is fairly unusual for any other word in a compound noun to be plural - mainly because the other words besides the core noun are usually adjectives, and you can't pluralise an adjective, 'statistical' being an example of that. But some compound nouns may use adjectival nouns that can be plural, for example, "a statistics book".

If you are finding examples of 'techniques' being used with 'is' it must be because the wider context demands it - for example, if it is being used as part of a singular noun phrase, for example, "a book of techniques".

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    OK, but "statistical techniques" is not a compound noun, but a syntactic construction, i.e. a noun phrase.
    – BillJ
    Commented Feb 23 at 18:01
  • @BillJ good, my answer has a wider application and will help anyone who searches the question title.
    – Astralbee
    Commented Feb 23 at 20:04
  • Based on Wikipedia, the head in the noun phrase is the second noun, and it could be plural.
    – Kernel
    Commented Feb 23 at 20:06
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    @Kernel I changed the term 'head noun' for 'core noun' in a much earlier edit to avoid confusion, so I'm not sure why you're mentioning that now. 'Head' does sound like the first noun, that's because in other languages it may be. But second, you say "second noun", which assumes there are only two in the phrase. "Ambulance driver uniforms" has three, for example. So I felt 'core noun' was clearer and it would be the last in the phrase.
    – Astralbee
    Commented Feb 23 at 22:28
  • I did not notice the difference between the “head" and “core" nouns. It is clear now. After Googling both “head” and “core” nouns, I found that the phrase “head noun" is more often used in grammar tutorials than “core noun". Nevertheless, it does not mean that “head noun” is more accurate than “core noun".
    – Kernel
    Commented Feb 28 at 15:00

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