richfool wrote:So what about: this handful of companies and that handful of companies?! Two separate singular handfuls.
As far as I am concerned, it has to be a singular handful, and thus "is", whether the hand contains one or many items.
To use a different example: there is a handful of peanuts, .... not there are a handful of peanuts;
or, here is a handful of peanuts, .... and not here are a handful of peanuts.
What looks and sounds correct isn't necessarily correct. In grammar the verb should match the subject. In this case the subject is "companies" (plural) so the verb should also be plural, namely "are".I bet the original poster is none the wiser after reading this thread.
Yes, very confusing thread.
The subject is NOT "companies". It is "A handful of companies". That is why it's so tricky.
richfool is also confusing the matter. The subject is not
determined by the form of the subject but by its meaning
. A handful of companies is the same in form as a handful of peanuts but they mean different things. The former is merely idiomatic and means "a few companies" or some "companies". The latter implies an actual hand full of peanuts. Thus it is perfectly natural to use the plural verb in one case and singular in the other.
In other contexts the choice between singular and plural will be less clear-cut and a judgement or artistic choice is required.