General Writing and Grammar Help/Do or does?

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QUESTION: Hi Ted,

I used the following T.S. Elliot quote:

“I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”

...and then wrote the following sentence:

Does Elliot’s words conger up thoughts of the fragility of life?  

My question:

Is "does" correct, or would "do" be better.  

If you have time, please explain your answer.

Thank you for your time.

Regards,
Eric

ANSWER: Dear Eric:

IMPORTANT UPDATE:  I mean to write that there is just one "l" in T. S. Eliot's name.

**********************************

I used the following T.S. Elliot quote:

“I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”

...and then wrote the following sentence:

Does Elliot’s words conger up thoughts of the fragility of life?  

My question:

Is "does" correct, or would "do" be better.  

If you have time, please explain your answer.

*** Eric, let's look at the structure of your sentence.  You have written it as a question -- and interrogative sentence.  We can change it to a declarative sentence by writing it this way:

Eliot's words _____ conger up thought of the fragility of life.

The subject of your sentence is "words," a plural noun.  You must, therefore, use a plural verb, in this case a plural "helping" [or auxiliary] verb.  Try substituting a plural pronoun for the word "words."  It would be THEY DO CONGER.  The singular form would be IT DOES CONGER.

I hope my explanation is clear.  As soon as you determine the "number" of the subject, meaning whether it is singular or plural, you can then find the proper verb to use.

Eric, I want to make one more point.  If this sentence is part of a class assignment, your teacher will go nuts when she/he sees that you have misspelled T. S. Eliot's name.
Although you didn't ask me a name question, I am advising you STRONGLY to spell the poet's last name with just one "t."

Send me some more question.  I like Erie.

Ted

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Ted,

Thank you for the reply.

1. Thank you for pointing out that I spelled Eliot's name incorrectly -- I don't know how I missed that!

2. RE:  “I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”
Does Eliot’s words conger up thoughts of the fragility of life?

I read what you said, but if I wanted to keep the sentence in question as an "interrogative sentence," would I begin it with do or does?

Again: Thank you for your time.

Regards,
Eric

Answer
Dear Eric:

Thank you for the reply.

1. Thank you for pointing out that I spelled Eliot's name incorrectly -- I don't
know how I missed that!

2. RE:  “I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”
Does Eliot’s words conger up thoughts of the fragility of life?

I read what you said, but if I wanted to keep the sentence in question as an
"interrogative sentence," would I begin it with do or does?

*** I took in out of the interrogatory simply to make the sentence into regular word order.  The verb still belongs to the subject "words."  Since "words" is plural, you must use the plural verb "DO."  

EXAMPLES:

Words DO make a difference.

Firemen FIGHT fires.  One fireman FIGHTS a fire.

Ted

Eric -- Thank you for sending the evaluation.  You can count on me to help you with any English or poetry question.  My favorite poem is "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," in my opinion the best that Eliot wrote.

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Ted Nesbitt

Expertise

I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

Education/Credentials
B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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