Differences in values are/is not necessarily the source/sources of conflicts

Which word should I choose in each pair of words separated by "/"?

  • 1
    This is a good grammar question, one that deals with subject-verb agreement in a copular-like clause. :)
    – F.E.
    Dec 10 '14 at 21:11

The answer is as follows:

'Differences in values are not necessarily the source of conflicts'.

Please look at a couple of sentences of this type as follows:

1- Oranges are a source of vitamin "C".

2- oil, water, coal, natural gas and nuclear are sources of electricity.

I think when we refer to a group of related things (family), we use the singular source and when we refer to groups of different related things, we use the plural sources.

  • To be clear, the plural that "are" agrees with is "differences" rather than "values" in this sentence. Nov 10 '14 at 18:56
  • Jason Patterson, I know "are" agrees with differences, not values. Another example: His antics are a source of much enjoyment (The Free Dictionary)!
    – Khan
    Nov 14 '14 at 4:50
  • 1
    I assumed you did. :) It was a comment to try to clarify which plural noun was the subject for pxc3110. Nov 14 '14 at 12:55

Differences in values are not necessarily the sources of conflict.

Conflict should be singular here, simply because there isn't any reason to make it plural. The verb tense is plural, because the base subject is differences (not values, or anything else). Likewise, the second word should be sources because "differences" is plural.

  • 2
    But singular "source" could also work, given an apt context. Husband/wife, say, with differences in values on child-rearing, might argue over how to deal with a particular infraction by their child. The differences in their values would be a source of conflict. Oct 10 '14 at 22:07

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