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The Grammar Guru

Once a year, Jerome made a spiritual pilgrimage to see the Mahamaven, the seer who charged $400 an hour.

This morning, Jerome entered the room where the Mahamaven saw his "questors" or visitors.

Half the room was in shadow, creating an aura of mystery. Jerome knelt before a pair of closed curtains and folded his hands. Soon, he saw light behind the curtains. Then, they parted, revealing the Mahamaven, who was wearing a golden robe and sitting on a golden throne.

"Yes, my son, how can I help you?"

Jerome said, "Half my problems are easily solved, such as whether to buy a new electric razor-"

Impatiently, the Mahamaven put up his hand. "Half my time is spent seeing fools! I urge you not to place yourself in that category!"

Jerome lowered his head. "Forgive me, Mahamaven. My fiancee is impatient. We've been engaged for three years, but I'm still not ready to take the plunge. Half of me wants to stay single; the other half wants to get married. I just can't decide."

The Mahamaven closed his eyes. In a moment, he said, "Witness the essence of the cosmic revolution. Therein lies the correct path. Pay on your way out."

So Jerome left, with doubt in his mind and a hole in his wallet.

Remember: "half" takes a small (singular) or big (plural) bottom (verb), depending on what it's describing.

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Quiz

1) "Half the clocks (need/needs) winding," Jeb told Roger. "Half my time (is/are) wasted winding clocks."

2) "I think that half of Leroy's lies (is/are) the truth," Amy told her therapist.

3) Half the beach (were/was) ablaze with sun, so that's where Miriam spread her blanket.

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Answers

1) need/is ("I don't have time for this," said Roger, and he walked away.)

2) are (The therapist was thinking, "I haven't had steak since Wednesday. Maybe tonight.")

3) was (Miriam no sooner swabbed herself down with suntan lotion than a wind blew in, covering her with sand. Sticky situation, that.)

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