Notional concord redux

I wrote about the concept of notional concord here. Refresh your memory if you like before reading farther. I’ll wait.

All right. I just encountered the following.

“Each of these disparate images have their own story […]”

The problem is that phrase “of these disparate images.” Without that, we know that “each” implies a singular thing, one item, and therefore takes a singular verb. However, as soon as we put a phrase after it that contains a plural noun, things get complicated. The MWDEU invokes Copperud and says that “notional agreement appears to be gaining ground over grammatical agreement.”

That means, in plain language, that people are using plural verbs with “each” in this situation about as often as they’re using singular ones. The notion of number (singular or plural, as perceived by the reader/writer) is malleable.

Except it’s not to me, because I’m an old hard-ass. I’m with Garner, who says (in the 4th edition):

“… the best practice is to write each … is regardless of whether a plural noun intervenes (each of the members is).”

For myself, in my head I hear/see “each one” instead of “each.” That cements it for me. “Each one of these disparate images has its own story…” That construction relegates “each” to an adjective, modifying “one”, which becomes the subject.

Some of you will be clucking your tongues and shaking your heads and muttering about me being a stick in the mud. To you, I say only “Singular they should be used whenever it is appropriate, which is almost always.”

Stick THAT in your mud.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s