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  1. #1
    Choppafreak
    Guest

    "What follows are..."

    I just led off a critique of someone's work with this phrase. I look at it, and it appears ungrammatical. However, "what follow are" doesn't sound much better, and when I google

    "What follows are" + grammar

    I get a bunch of prescriptive grammar pages that unselfconsciously use the phrase "what follows are."

    How wrong is it? Granted it's stilted and a little pretentious, but so am I. Is it the obvious error that it appears?



  2. #2
    Goliardeys
    Guest

    Re: "What follows are..."

    I agree with you that "what follows are..." is wrong. The confusion comes from the fact that "what" can be both singular and plural; but the writer must decide which of the two it is to be and then make all affected verbs conform - in this case "follow" and "are".

    However, the reason that "what follow are..." doesn't sound right either (even though it is) is that we are much more used to the "what follows is..." format. In this case I'd suggest a recasting:

    What about "Here are..." ?

    Goliardeys.

  3. #3
    Reese
    Guest

    Err, one more try ...

    The confusion arises in the mistaken belief that the verb is modifying something stated herein. It does not. The problem is that we don't know from your question exactly what the verb 'are' modifies.

    'What follows are A STORY ABOUT ...' is obviously wrong. The verb here modifies the STORY, which is SINGULAR and therefore the verb should be singular in number.

    If, however, the verb is modifying, say, EXAMPLES ... 'What follows are SOME EXAMPLES of the correct way ...' then the verb is modifying a plural subject and should, itself, be in the plural form.

    Likewise, use of the plural form follows gets confusing and, since all of my dictionaries explain it better than I, I will try to summarize the multiple explanations on this one.

    'The usage of follows is the established form regardless of the grammatical number of the noun to which it applies. [... The events scheduled for today are as follows.'] The example, 'the events scheduled for today are as follow,' is deemed unacceptable.'
    In such constructions, the subject of 'follows' is generally construed as 'it' unexpressed: '.. as it follows ...'

  4. #4
    Goliardeys
    Guest

    Re: Err, one more try ...

    I don't agree with you, Reese, since "as follows" is a different construction to "what follows". Yes, in "as follows" the assumed subject is "it; but the subject in "what follows are..." is "what".

    To pick out something you said:

    "If, however, the verb is modifying, say, EXAMPLES ... 'What follows are SOME EXAMPLES of the correct way ...' then the verb is modifying a plural subject and should, itself, be in the plural form."

    I agree that the verbs should be plural, but the plural subject in this case is "what" (construed as "the things that"); the "examples" are not the subject of "are" but the complement. Therefore "follow" is correct because the subject "what" is made plural by there being more than one example.

    Goliardeys.

  5. #5
    Reese
    Guest

    No goal, Goli.

    The rule still stands that 'follows' is the form to use. What, in this circumstance is not necessarily plural in and of itself, and would serve in the same context as 'it'. Singular.

    What follows is ...
    What follows are ...

    It is still 'follows.'

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