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I wrote:

(describing a scene in a screenplay)

..., a 70's music band is playing and a vast amount of pills over the desk.

to got corrected by an editor with:

..., a 70's music band is playing and a vast amount of pills is over the desk.

Shouldn't it be are instead? And why simply omitting it could be wrong or not preferable? (I'm not a native English speaker)

  • No, because it's talking about a vast (singular). – Alejandro Feb 28 '16 at 2:53
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    The sentence makes no sense... "a vast amount of pills is what over the desk"? are in a pile on the desk? are strewn across the desk? This isn't a complete thought. – Catija Feb 28 '16 at 2:57
  • @Ustanak, you're right. I get it now. – jpablobr Feb 28 '16 at 3:02
  • @Catija, well, that's all they are doing. They are on the desk, that's all. Why would you want them to be strewn, in a pile, or wherever else? I think the sentence still makes sense. – jpablobr Feb 28 '16 at 3:06
  • But you don't say that they're on the desk... You say that they're "over the desk"... which implies that they're floating. You could say that they're "spread out all over the desk"... that's idiomatic. Saying they're "over the desk" doesn't make sense. – Catija Feb 28 '16 at 3:07
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When you say:

a 70's music band is playing and a vast amount of pills is over the desk.

it seems like the pills are floating somehow over the desk. I think what you need is all over:

A 70's music band is playing and a vast amount of pills is all over the desk.

Also the use of and in this example seems odd, since there is no common topic between the conjoined phrases.

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  • I would agree... but in a script, it's not uncommon to describe scenes like this. Presumably, the beginning of the sentence is another piece of the description. The connection is that it's a description of the scene. – Catija Feb 28 '16 at 3:16

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