A guard of honor march to the eternal flame on Nakhimov Square on the memorial of the heroic defense of Sevastopol (1941-1942) as Crimeans celebrate the first anniversary of the referendum on March 16, 2014 in Sevastopol, Crimea. Today marks the first anniversary of the referendum which resulted in the annexation of the territory by Russia.

Is march used as a verb here? If so, then I must presume that a guard of honor is a plural noun, but it does not sound plural to me at all. Another way to look at this sentence, though, is treat guard of honor as an adjective describing march, but that can't be right either since structurally that part must be the main clause of this rather long sentence and would require a verb which would be missing. Which interpretation do you think is the correct one or am I completely wrong about all this?

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    It looks for like the issue here is about whether "a guard of honor" is singular or plural. (As you might already know, a guard can also mean "a group of guards".) I remember I ran into something similar, like "A set of problems are ...", before. I'd better leave whether it's fine or not for others to decide. Mar 17, 2015 at 11:31

4 Answers 4


A guard of honour, according to yourdictionary, is:

A group of people (especially military), arranged in one or more rows, at a ceremony to honour, or a visit by, an important person.

It is not uncommon to treat nouns that represent groups of individuals as plural nouns, even when the noun itself is strictly singular, especially when referring to an action undertaken by the individuals in the group (in this case, the members of the guard of honour do the marching.)

So march is a verb, and it is plural.The sentence

A guard of honor march as Crimeans celebrate.

follows the same pattern as

A child plays as her mother watches

For more detail on the use of plural or singular verbs with group nouns, see this question.

  • beat me to it! and I only registered to answer too damn you!
    – MD-Tech
    Mar 17, 2015 at 13:23
  • So, let me sum things up. Some think it's a noun, but some think it's a verb. Who's right? Go figure. Mar 17, 2015 at 13:44
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    @CookieMonster: if it is a noun, there is a verb missing in the sentence. This is usually considered to be a grammatical error, although it is acceptable in headlines. This does not seem to be a headline. It may be a style choice by the author, but seeing march as a verb has no such issues. Except the use of guard of honour as a plural, which is not as common in all dialects, but certainly acceptable in all.
    – oerkelens
    Mar 17, 2015 at 13:51
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    There are very similar structures in which march might be a noun, such as "A guard of honour march took place to celebrate...". But that is not the case here. Mar 17, 2015 at 14:30
  • @oerkelens Oops. my mistype. Mar 17, 2015 at 14:31

March is a verb: to walk with regular or measured tread. The guard of honor (plural noun, as you suggested) are marching.


March is used as a noun here. The sentence is describing what's in the picture above it. It's a picture of a march. Guard of honour is an adjective describing the type of march. Everything else in the sentence is providing further detail about the march: where, when and why.

Since the sentence is a caption for a picture, there is no need for a verb.

Alternatively, march could be a verb here, and guard of honour the noun. In which case, guard of honour is being treated as a plural noun because it's a collection of individual people. It's an unusual usage, but having read the sentence a few more times, I believe this is the correct interpretation.

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    Except that there is then no verb in the sentence. Mar 17, 2015 at 12:04
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    ssav, That makes perfect sense! @WhatRoughBeast A title of a picture (or anything, for that matter) doesn't always need a verb. (See also: Headlinese.) Mar 17, 2015 at 12:15
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    @DamkerngT. but this is not a headline, so headlinese would be inappropriate. “A guard of honor march as Crimeans celebrate” follows the same pattern as “A child plays as her mother watches.”
    – oerkelens
    Mar 17, 2015 at 13:18
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    Attributive use of a (noun) phrase does not make that (noun) phrase an adjective. Ice in ice cream is not an adjective either...
    – oerkelens
    Mar 17, 2015 at 13:24
  • The "sentence" (actually a fragment) is the caption for a picture of "a march". The type of march, depicted in the photograph, is a "guard of honor" march. It is not required that the caption of a photograph be a complete sentence. Mar 17, 2015 at 15:12

Would "A guard of honour marches to the eternal flame..." be incorrect? I'd accept either, thus admitting that the number of "guard of honour" was ambiguous.

I don't think it's necessary to concoct a parsing of that sentence where "march" isn't a verb, though it is just about possible to do so.

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