Contemporary essays, fiction, and opinion offered regularly by author Anne Brandt.

Question for the week
Is there anything wrong with the following phrase? "It cost less to reuse boxes than to buy new ones."
Rules of the Games
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Howard, an attorney, asks...
I have two questions and both involve the use of "do" or "does". What rights do/does the government have in the technical data submitted by the contractor? The technical data submitted by Buick do/does not have any markings.
Anne answers...
The answers to your questions follow: In the first sentence, the correct answer is "What right does the government have . . . " since government is a singular noun and requires a singular verb. In the second sentence, the correct answer is "The technical data submitted by Buick do not have any markings." The reason is that data is a plural noun and requires a plural verb. The plural verb in this case is 'do'. It sounds strange to the ear because most people don't know that data is plural for datum.
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