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The selling of properties in the country have increased rapidly.

Shoud I use have increased or has increased?

3 Answers 3

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Has increased, since "selling" is singular.

But I suspect you mean "Sales of properties have increased". In this case it is "have" because "sales" is plural.

Alternatively, you might mean "The number of people selling properties has increased." In this case it is "has" because "number" is singular.

The important thing to note is that it is not the number of properties involved that determines singular or plural here. It is whether the word that "increased" refers to is singular or plural. Thus:

"Robberies have increased." because "robberies" is plural.

But "Stealing has increased" because "stealing" is singular.

Both say exactly the same thing, but the grammatical structure is different, and thus it is have in one case and has in the other.

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In this sentence, the gerund selling is the subject, and that is what the verb must agree with, so the correct form would be has increased. The plural noun properties is an object, so even though it is closer to the verb than selling, it is not necessary for the verb to agree with properties.

It sometimes helps in making this sort of choice by removing words until the sentence is as simple as possible, then choosing the correct verb. Here the confusion is, I assume, between the singular gerund selling and the plural noun properties.

The selling of properties in the country have/has increased rapidly.

Version 1:

The of properties in the country have increased rapidly.

This is ungrammatical and lets us know that the noun properties is not the subject. Even if we drop the word of, the meaning of the sentence is altered substantially (though it does become grammatical.)

Version 2:

The selling has increased rapidly.

Removing "of properties in the country" removes some descriptive information from the sentence, but it is still about the same topic, the rate of sales. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, the sentence still makes perfect sense and has good grammar. This is a strong indicator that this was the correct choice.

The same strategy can be used in any number of situations when a longer or more complex sentence is giving you difficulties with noun/verb agreement or choosing the correct pronoun.

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The word 'selling' in the sentence is an uncountable noun that takes a singular verb; it's selling (of properties) that has increased, not properties.

You can also use the selling as a gerund as follows:

Selling properties in the country has increased rapidly.

"Selling properties in the country" is a gerund phrase.

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