General Writing and Grammar Help/Plural or Singular


Dear Grammar expert, while plural verb is used for plural subject noun and singular verb is used for singular subject noun, I wish to know how this applies when the subject noun is a plural word which is used as a singular.  
    For example, which is right. "Diabetes related problems is a risk factor." or "Diabetes related problems are risk factors."
    In the examples above, I wish to use the term "diabetes related problems" to mean problems as a group.
    I would think that "Diabetes related problems is a risk factor." is the correct form. However, I very much need your assistance.

First of all, "diabetes related problems" is incorrect. A hyphen is required: "diabetes-related problems." (If you'd like elaboration, please ask a follow-up.)

Second, the subject of the sentence is "problems," which is plural, and requires a plural verb. "Diabetes-related" is an adjective modifying "problems."

Correct is:

Diabetes-related problems are a risk factor.  

General Writing and Grammar Help

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Richard Johnson


I specialize in grammar. I can however answer any question except homework questions--usually the same day--concerning English grammar, usage, or (non-fiction) writing style, on the basis of the American practice. All answers are explained, and I encourage follow-up.


I'm a retired editor and a lifelong student of this subject. My library includes a great many works to which I've referred through the years. I currently rely largely on the sixteenth edition of The Chicago Manual of Style supplemented, where appropriate, by Long, The New College Grammar.

For over 30 years I edited the newsletter of my own organization, which had different names but was last known as

BA, Brooklyn College. Advanced studies in economics and political science.

Awards and Honors
For many years a member of Mensa.

©2017 All rights reserved.