Writing for Business

Aug 1 2013   2:01PM GMT

What the world needs now: subject-verb agreement

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?

interrobang Enter the CHRO: Apparently, what the world needs now ___ more C-level execs.
a. is
b. are

Answer: a.

This one seems obvious when you stop and read carefully… but I have to admit that when I saw a version of this sentence using “are,” the error slipped right past me initially. Then it snagged and I saw what the issue is.

It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about a gazillion C-level execs (or puppies or snickerdoodles or what have you) — the verb “is” modifies the phrase “what the world needs now,” which is singular, not the subject of the sentence, those proliferating C-level execs.

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