I am very confused by this article title in New Yorker:

How Much Do Pacquiao-Mayweather Tickets Cost?

Shouldn't it be "How much does"? Why do?

1 Answer 1


The answer is

How much do Pacquiao-Mayweather tickets cost? (Better off without capitalization when you're asking a question from your friend)

The misunderstanding, I believe, is caused by these two guys: Pacquaio and Mayweather.

If you run into this kind of problem, I suggest

1. Finding out what the verb is pertaining to:

Isn't the sentence like this?

How much does/do ____ cost?

We need to fill that blank with either something or somethings. To find out which, do the next step.

2. Omitting the elements of the noun phrase:

What are the words in this phrase? Pacquiao-Mayweather and tickets. We eliminate both. The one that makes sense, has the head of the phrase.

How much do * Pacquiao-Mayweather cost?

How much do tickets cost?

You see, the price is about the tickets. So, tickets is the head of the noun phrase.1

3. Applying the subject-verb agreement:

Verbs, generally, follow (or agree with) the nouns they're pertaining to. In this step, after we have identified the head of the noun phrase, we have to write a verb that agrees with it.

Tickets is a plural noun. So, the verb needs to be plural.

How much do/does tickets cost?

Done like a charm! 2 :)

1: If you want a more comprehensive way of determining the head of noun phrases, visit here.
2: If things are still vague, you can leave me a comment.

  • 2. Notice that "Pacquiau-Maywether" is acting as a modifier for "tickets"; thus the names are NOT nouns and could NOT be the subject for "cost". We don't have to try them out to see if they "make sense" as the "head". May 3, 2015 at 11:15
  • 2
    @Brian The name(s) certainly is a noun (word class / part of speech) that modifies tickets. What else would it be? What is office in office building? May 5, 2015 at 4:37
  • 2
    Modifier is a function, noun is a class. Being a modifier does not mean something isn't a noun.
    – user230
    May 5, 2015 at 5:28
  • Okay, let's just say the names are not acting as nouns, and therefore could not be the subject for "cost". happy now? May 5, 2015 at 5:55

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