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Which sentence is correct,

  1. These accusations of plagiarism has to stop
  2. These accusations of plagiarism have to stop

The reason that I ask is because I believe the first sentence is correct, the singular one, because one is guided by the noun after of since the subject "accusations" is plural, and the noun "plagiarism" is singular. Someone said that that's not correct and that I should use the plural version. Which is it?

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  • 1
    Sorry, but your premise is not right. "Of plagiarism" is a prepositional phrase, and goes with the actual subject, which is "accusations". Think about it: you can remove "of plagiarism" and the sentence still makes sense; but if you remove "accusations", it falls apart. – Cascabel Jul 20 '16 at 1:26
  • Would the sentence "A lot of the food is gone" be grammatical? I believe it is. A lot is the subject, and it's plural; but food, like "plagiarism" is singular. – Andrew Jones Jul 20 '16 at 1:42
  • Once again, "plagiarism" is not the subject in the sentence. And "lot" could be of it, or of them. See this link – Cascabel Jul 20 '16 at 1:44
  • 4
    @Andrew Jones "Lot" is different. It is one of a few 'number-transparent' nouns where the number of the noun in the of-phrase complement determines the number of the whole noun phrase. So "A lot of the food is gone" (singular "food") but "A lot of the buns are gone" (plural "buns"). "Accusations" is not number-transparent so it dictates the number of the noun phrase it heads; since it's a plural noun, it follows that the whole noun phrase must also be plural. Incidentally, "lot" is singular here, not plural. – BillJ Jul 20 '16 at 7:00
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The rule is as follows:

"A subject comes before a phrase beginning with of. This is a key rule for understanding subjects. The word of is the culprit in many, perhaps most, subject-verb mistakes".

The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation by Jane Straus

In "These accusations of plagiarism have to stop" it's "accusations" (plural, they) that have to stop. Easy as pie.

Added:

But, as was noted in the comments, with words that indicate portions (a lot, some, a number, a majority, etc.), a singular verb is used if the noun after "of" is singular, and a plural verb, if it is plural. (The same source)

A lot of accusations of plagiarism have been flying around.

  • 1
    Yes, but don't forget the special rule for the number-transparent nouns like "lot" "rest" "deal" etc. Cf. "A lot of food was eaten" vs " A lot of pies were eaten". – BillJ Jul 24 '16 at 6:38

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