One half of the class is/are ready

zer0_cool16   Sat Feb 14, 2009 3:51 am GMT
What is the rule with this? Can you show me a document that gives the rule for usage of fractions with compound noun?
upstater   Sat Feb 14, 2009 1:15 pm GMT
I don't know about a rule, but around here I'd probably say "is" in this case.

On the other hand, I'd also say:

"One half of the cars on the road today are dirty."

"Half of the company has already been laid off."
azot   Sat Feb 14, 2009 10:01 pm GMT
Half of the class are ready = each of the people making up half the class are all ready

Half of the class is ready = same as above OR half of the class ROOM is ready
zer0_cool16   Sat Feb 14, 2009 11:15 pm GMT

Do you imply that either can be used? I was corrected by my instructor about this that's why she dared me to find a resource that will prove her wrong when she said we can always use singular verb for "Class".
Anonymous1   Sun Feb 15, 2009 2:32 am GMT
For a general rule, whether you use "is" or "are" depends on whether or not the noun in question is singular or plural. "Is" is for singular. "Are" is for plural.

In your case, class, while referring to a group of people, is referring to only a single class, so you would say "Half of the class is..."

In the example upstater mentioned, "cars" is plural, so you would say "The cars are..."

While that should cover casual English, if you want to go into more detail it unfortunately gets much more complex than that. Note that most native speakers probably don't know the following so whether or not it would be useful to you is questionable. When referring to a group with a singular noun, such as "class" whether or not you would use a singular verb or a plural verb depends upon whether the group is considered collectively or individually and also whether or not the group is composed of living creatures. It also changes between American and British English. This might help out if you are interested
Guest   Sun Feb 15, 2009 2:56 am GMT
ONE half .... is

TWO halves .... are

THREE halves .... are
Guest   Sun Feb 15, 2009 3:04 am GMT
Depends on British or American ... for some reason one's plural and the other's singular.
Vera   Mon Feb 16, 2009 1:14 pm GMT
Isn't it analogous to "a number of ..." or "the most part of..." etc.? I always doubt when I run into this kind of structures (or the structures of the kind? :) This is yet another difficulty).
Damian in Edinburgh   Mon Feb 16, 2009 3:17 pm GMT
The subject noun in this particular sentence is "half" and even though it refers to a number of people, which can be taken as a plural form as it invoves more than one individual, it is in fact a single unit. So it's "is" and not "are". That's the British perspective anyway - whether it's different elsewhere in the ESW I really don't know...I wouldn;t have thought so.
User   Mon Feb 16, 2009 3:34 pm GMT
Americans would say "One half of the class is ready." I thought that the British would say "are ready", but I guess not.
JimmySeal   Mon Feb 16, 2009 3:43 pm GMT
Either is acceptable. Since "one half" is a singular expression, you can use a singular verb, but because "One half of the class" indicates a group of people, it's also ok to use a plural verb.

It's my understanding that British tend to use plural verbs with groups and Americans tend to use singular verbs with singular expressions even when they are groups, but even if that's true, it's not a clear-cut situation.

I'm American and I would say "One half of the class is ready."
Talliho Oldchap   Mon Feb 16, 2009 4:33 pm GMT
I'm British and I would feel comfortable talking about what one half of the class are doing. I can't explain why I would use "are" when talking about a singular class. It doesn't make logical sense.

If you split a class into several parts do the parts of the class become plural?.
Leasnam   Mon Feb 16, 2009 5:32 pm GMT
<<I'm British and I would feel comfortable talking about what one half of the class are doing. I can't explain why I would use "are" when talking about a singular class. It doesn't make logical sense.

Usually in British English, group nouns, though singular, are treated as plural individuals.

Take for instance words like 'team', 'family', 'class'

AM: The team/family/class has arrived.
BR: The team/family/class have arrived.

In American English these are singular nouns, so the singular verb is preferred. In British English, it's as if they are saying:

The team/family/class [members] have arrived. This may be how it started there, with this logic in mind being thought, but not expressed verbally.
zer0_cool16   Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:32 am GMT
Let's say you are an american and you heard me say "one half of the class are ready", would you know right away that i'm not native?
H   Tue Feb 17, 2009 5:12 am GMT
Why not treat is like "a family"? It's a group of people. You can't say "(One) half of the family _is_ against", can you?