Majority Rules

In Tip #112 we covered some pronouns that are sometimes singular and sometimes plural, depending on how they are used in the sentence. The noun “majority” follows roughly the same rule: if it looks like a plural, walks like a plural, and quacks like a plural, use the plural verb, and if it acts and quacks like a singular unit or quantity, use the singular verb.

Multiple individuals (plural):
The vast majority of engineers hate to write technical papers about their projects.

Collective unit or quantity (singular):
A 60% majority is needed to stop a filibuster in the US Senate.

The word “majority” should only be used with countable items, whereas “most” should be used for a non-countable quantity.

Countable items:
The majority of the cement sacks left out in the rain were still dry.

Non-countable quantity:
Most of the cement was placed in the wellbore.


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