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Complex language[change]

IP seems to know what "constitution means, but seems bent on writing the definition (and especially the example) in the most complex English available. This is simple English Wiktionary. Let's keep it simple, shall we? --Cromwellt|talk|contribs 22:17, 30 May 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Is vs. are[change]

There seems to be some disagreement over the second definition: The constitution of a person or object is/are the qualities that best define that person or object.

There are three words before the predicating (main) verb:
The constitution of a person or object is/are....
My friend who does not wish to login seems to claim that because person + object are two things, the main verb should be plural. In cases where there is more than one subject or when the subject is plural, my friend is completely correct. The problem is that in this sentence, neither "person" nor "object" is a subject. "Constitution" is the only subject of this sentence, and "of a person or object" is a qualifying phrase which describes the subject. Because subject and verb must agree in number, and "constitution" is the only subject, the verb must be singular. The proof of this comes if we try removing the intermediate words: "The constitution are the qualities" vs. "The constitution is the qualities." "Is" is definitely better there. If "constitution" were not the subject, we should be able to remove it instead, but neither the sentence "The person or object is the qualities that best define that person or object" nor "The person or object are the qualities that best define that person or object" make sense, because the sentence is talking about "constitution," which therefore must be the subject. Hence, "constitution" is the subject and the verb must be the singular "is." This is why the definition should read "The constitution of a person or object is the qualities that best define that person or object." If someone still disagrees, I can try to explain it in greater detail. --Cromwellt|talk|contribs 00:01, 1 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I would also like to remind my friend at IP (who appears to be the same person that first added def 2, but may not be) that SEWiktionary, as all Wikimedia projects, is open to changes by anyone and it is important to assume good faith, avoid personal attacks (not that the summary was a personal attack, but some people might consider it one), and remember that no one owns a particular page or definition. As it says below the edit box, "If you don't want your writing to be edited mercilessly..., then don't submit it here." But let's be nice about it: we're here to make a dictionary, not to fight over petty differences, right? --Cromwellt|talk|contribs 00:12, 1 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]