English as a Second Language/Plural or singular verb?


Dear Shannon,

I read these sentencess in English for Starters 9

"What has the following food and drink got in common?
Curry, kebbabs, tabbouleh, hummus, coffee"

Is the verb "has" correct here?

"In the bastket with the three men, was food, fuel for cooking, tents, guns, a boat and sledges, in case they landed on the ice."

Is the verb "was" correct here?

Best regards,
Antoine Ghannoum

I would suspect in both cases that there is an error.  "Have" and "were" should be used.  Possibly the confusion of the author comes from the fact that oftentimes, "what" is used as a singular pronoun if the subject of the question is not clearly singular or plural (example: "What is wrong?").  Likewise, in the second example, the error could stem from thinking about collective nouns being used in the singular ("In the basket with the three men was a lot of stuff.")

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Shannon Cole


I can answer questions related to learning the English and Spanish language.


I have taught ESL and Spanish since 1998 at the university and middle school levels. I am a native of the U.S., and have taught in both the U.S. and Mexico.

I am owner and operator of www.coleinstitute.com, an online language school.

Georgia TESOL in Action (1999)

B.A. in Spanish; M.Ed. in Language Education

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I have clients worldwide, some who want their documents proofread, and others who take lessons with me through the Internet. Some work at high-profile companies and government organizations. Besides the U.S. and Mexico, my recent students come from South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey, Colombia, Russia, Italy, Paraguay, China, Japan, the Philippines, and Saudi Arabia.

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