Should this sentence use "seem" or "seems"?

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joujoub
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Should this sentence use "seem" or "seems"?

Post by joujoub » 10 Feb 2019, 23:57

Is the following sentence grammatically correct as shown or should "seems" instead by "seem"?

Among the most difficult for me were the unremorseful (presumed) pedophile and the most innocent of bystanders who seems to pay the ultimate price for the transgressions of another (to say more would reveal too much).

The sentence is meant to communicate that there is pedophile who feels no remorse and a bystander that pays the price for someone else's sins. Is "seems" correct, given that "the most innocent of bystanders" is singular?

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Post by Espie » 11 Feb 2019, 06:10

joujoub wrote:
10 Feb 2019, 23:57
Is the following sentence grammatically correct as shown or should "seems" instead by "seem"?

Among the most difficult for me were the unremorseful (presumed) pedophile and the most innocent of bystanders who seems to pay the ultimate price for the transgressions of another (to say more would reveal too much).

The sentence is meant to communicate that there is pedophile who feels no remorse and a bystander that pays the price for someone else's sins. Is "seems" correct, given that "the most innocent of bystanders" is singular?
I think it depends on the context.

The phrase "the most innocent of bystanders" alone doesn't give an indication of the actual number of most innocent bystanders. It could be only one, but there could also be two or more bystanders who have the same extremely high level of innocence per the example below:

most innocent of bystanders.JPG
most innocent of bystanders.JPG (31.97 KiB) Viewed 261 times

How many most innocent bystanders are there?

The sentence could be correct if the word "seems" pertains to only one most innocent bystander who is paying the price for that other person's sins.
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Post by Zora C Penter » 11 Feb 2019, 16:17

Since only one thing can be considered "most" when used correctly, this phrase is singular. Therefore, seems is correct in this case.

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Post by Espie » 11 Feb 2019, 21:48

[/quote]
Zora C Penter wrote:
11 Feb 2019, 16:17
Since only one thing can be considered "most" when used correctly, this phrase is singular. Therefore, seems is correct in this case.
The superlative adjective phrase "most innocent" could be used to refer to both singular and plural nouns. (However, I am curious to know if there are sources that state differently.) The following are my references:

https://www.grammarly.com/blog/comparat ... djectives/:
Note the example "The most garrulous squirrels" that is cited.

https://www.insegnanti-inglese.com/gram ... super.html:
A superlative adjective usually explains that the noun it refers to is unique. However, it can also refer to plural items or people: the best players, the richest people, the first, the worst, the last, etc.
https://www.englishforums.com/English/S ... v/post.htm:
Yes, you can use plural nouns with superlatives. In this case, you would be ranking a group of people/things rather than individual things, or you might be referring to a person or thing that is part of the top (or bottom) category of something.
Basketball players are among the tallest men in the world.
Now, let's go back to the following sentence we are discussing:
joujoub wrote:
10 Feb 2019, 23:57
Among the most difficult for me were the unremorseful (presumed) pedophile and the most innocent of bystanders who seems to pay the ultimate price for the transgressions of another (to say more would reveal too much).
Both of the following extracts of the sentence may be correct depending on the context based on references I've found so far:
A. Among the most difficult for me was the most innocent of bystanders who seems to pay the ultimate price for the transgressions of another (to say more would reveal too much).
B. Among the most difficult for me were the most innocent of bystanders who seem to pay the ultimate price for the transgressions of another (to say more would reveal too much).

If there is only one "most innocent of bystanders," then using "seems" in A is correct.
If there are two or more "most innocent of bystanders," then "seem" in B is more appropriate.

The context that pertains to the review (i.e. if it's just Lucy, another character in the book or there are other bystanders with the same superlative level of innocence) needs to be known. @joujoub will be able to point that out as the reader and reviewer of the book. An editor needs to know, especially if this thread pertains to a recheck request on the review's scorecard. However, to avoid spoilers, the answer may not be divulged to the rest of us now.
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Post by _Delly_01 » 11 Feb 2019, 23:58

joujoub wrote:
10 Feb 2019, 23:57
Is the following sentence grammatically correct as shown or should "seems" instead by "seem"?

Among the most difficult for me were the unremorseful (presumed) pedophile and the most innocent of bystanders who seems to pay the ultimate price for the transgressions of another (to say more would reveal too much).

The sentence is meant to communicate that there is pedophile who feels no remorse and a bystander that pays the price for someone else's sins. Is "seems" correct, given that "the most innocent of bystanders" is singular?
The correct word would actually be 'seemed', because you have written in past tense. 'Seems' is present tense and used with singular pronouns.

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Post by Espie » 13 Feb 2019, 22:44

_Delly_01 wrote:
11 Feb 2019, 23:58
The correct word would actually be 'seemed', because you have written in past tense. 'Seems' is present tense and used with singular pronouns.
:text-yeahthat:

Indeed. Despite this thread's topic :topic: , I agree. The word could work with singular nouns and the like, too. :tiphat:
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Post by lisalynn » 13 Apr 2019, 10:18

Grammar rules aside, "seem" sounds better to the ear. In complicated situations such as this, perhaps it's a good idea to restructure the entire sentence to avoid the problem completely.

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Post by CinWin » 14 Apr 2019, 19:55

I think it should be " seemed" because of the tense. Among the most difficult for me were the unremorseful (presumed) pedophile and the most innocent of bystanders who seemed to pay the ultimate price for the transgressions of another (to say more would reveal too much).
If you take out all the other words and just say, "the most difficult were the pedophile and bystander who seemed/seem/seems to pay." you can get a better idea of what sounds best??
Just my 2 cents.
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Post by janinewesterweel » 07 May 2019, 08:30

Espie wrote:
13 Feb 2019, 22:44
_Delly_01 wrote:
11 Feb 2019, 23:58
The correct word would actually be 'seemed', because you have written in past tense. 'Seems' is present tense and used with singular pronouns.
:text-yeahthat:

Indeed. Despite this thread's topic :topic: , I agree. The word could work with singular nouns and the like, too. :tiphat:
Seemed is the correct form here because of the tense, and that cancels out the rest of the discussion. :wink: However, and please correct me if I'm wrong, the fact that the paedophile has been included in the thought automatically makes it plural. In that case, in the present tense "seem" would be right, not "seems".
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