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General Writing and Grammar Help/What's wrong with this sentence?


QUESTION: Hi there,

I am wondering what's wrong with this sentence:-

"Writers, how often does your work gets rejected?"

Should it be: "Writers, how often does your work get rejected?"

Which sentence is correct and why? I am confused.


ANSWER: Yes, it should be the second one.


The confusion is a colloquial use of the word =get=.   It is used to form a "verb" that doesn't really exist.


The subject of the sentence is =work=.

=Work= is singular because it is what I call a "collective noun."  A collective noun is a group of things considered as a unit, not as individual things.

For example, =team= is a collective noun and takes a singular verb.
The team is here.


Since =work= in your sentence is a collective noun, it takes a singular verb, too.  The "singular" form of =does get= is =does get=.

The plural form of =does get= is =do get=.


This sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?!  We can't even put this "verb" into infinitive form without laughing:  =to do get=!


At any rate, your second sentence is correct because =work= is a collective noun; a collective noun takes the singular (=does get=).


The real solution is to remove the colloquial "verb" and substitute a real verb:
How often is your work rejected?

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QUESTION: Hi again,

I often hear from people that whenever "does", "do", "did", "didn't" come in a sentence, any verb in the sentence should be singular. No "es" or "s" can be used after verbs. Are there other instances where "es" or "s" should not come after verbs? Many people say that verbs should be in their singular form (no es or s) after modal auxiliaries (can/could, may/might, must, will/would, and shall/should). Is this true?

Secondly, I have seen various times that people often get confused about have/has when it comes to subject-verb agreement. Let's take some examples,

1) Does your team has best players?

2) Does your team have best players?

Some people say that both are incorrect. Some say both of them are right.

If we look at the 1st sentence, we will come to know that the sentence contains "Does" and has is a singular form, and I think it is a verb. So is the first sentence correct choice because the sentence contains "Does" and "has" is a singular form action verb? Don't you think 2nd sentence is incorrect because "have" indicates plurality?



These folks are wrong.  

Some of the verbs you list here are singular; some are plural.  Some change according to tense.  That's the inconvenient problem with irregular verbs.


=To do= is one of these irritating irregular verbs.


For others who might be reading this answer another time and who might need a refresher on "person," here is a condensation.

I - singular [first person singular]

he/she/it - singular [second person singular]

we - plural [first person plural]

they - plural [second person plural]

you (single person) - singular  [third person singular]
you (more than one person) - plural [third person plural]


Now let's look at =to do= and how it changes with person and tense.

I do [singular; present tense]
I did [singular; past tense]

he/she/it does [singular; present]
he/she/it did  [singular; past tense]

we do [plural; present]
we did [plural; past]

they do [plural; present]
they did [plural; past]

you (one person) do [singular; present]
you did [singular; past]

you (more than one person) do [plural; present]
you did [plural; past]

All the past tenses of this =to do= are =did=.  Only he/she/it takes a weird form in the present tense (=does=).


As to your skepticism about =es= or =s= after verbs, you are correct.  This cannot be true because some verbs do have =s= at the end.  

=To do= is an irregular verb, as noted above, and ends in =s= in second person singular (he/she/it).  

Here are some regular verbs.  Each one has an =s= at the end in second person singular.
It runs on electricity.
He plays poker every day.
She says chocolate is tasty.


These people are also wrong that modal verbs must be followed by a singular verb. In fact, they have it backwards.  

For example, =sings= is singular and has an =s= at the end (=she sings=).  

Let's insert the modal verb =must=.  Now the sentence is =she must sing=.  =Sing= is the plural form of =to sing= (=they sing= & =we sing=).  Notice that now the =s= disappears.

The rule is that after a modal verb, the ~plural~ form must be used.



There are two problems here that make the sentence sound strange.


The first is that the verb is a compound verb (=does have=).  AND the sentence is in question form.  AND the two parts of the verb appear at opposite ends of the sentence.  

There is immediate confusion!


Not only is there confusion, but there is a complicating factor that increases it.  

The complicating factor is that the subject of the sentence (=team=) is a collective noun.  By definition, a collective noun is singular in American English.  Therefore, it would be =team has=, as in "The team has good players."


Back to the use of the compound verb (=does have=).

It is the form of =TO DO= that determines whether you use =does= or not.  

=Have= does not govern the form of the verb =to do= to use.  

So, all we need to look at is the form of =to do=.


Because a singular verb is required in this sentence (and it is second person), you must choose =does=.

Therefore the proper use here is =does have=.  


If the sentence were not stated as a question, the solution would be obvious.
Your team does have players.
Your team do have players.


The second problem is that an article is needed.  Here is the correct sentence.
Does your team have the [insert article] best players?

Anytime you use the superlative form of an adjective, you need an article because you are citing one from among many.  If you are using the comparative form, no article is needed.

The team has the best players.
The team has better players.


Again, if you transpose the sentence from question to statement, it is clear an article is needed.
Your team has best players.
Your team has the best players.


These two problems solved and combined yield this sentence.
Does your team have the best players?

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Martha Beth Lewis


I will answer questions having to do with grammar, plurals, punctuation, capitalization, mood, person, tense, and so on, as well as word usage and word choice. If you want a quick answer to a specific question, particularly if you wish to use formal American English for business or academic purposes (MLA), I can give you a timely response. I also can address word choice, clarity, structure, and similar concerns involving English as a second language. If you want advice of a deeper editorial nature (e.g., substantive [line] editing), please consult an Expert who offers this sort of assistance; I do not offer this sort of assistance.


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