Singular or plural


The teacher ordered that she (clean, cleans) her desk. In this case, do we use clean or cleans?

asked Aug 20 '12 at 08:46 Eileen New member

1 answer


Yes, this can be confusing.


As a verb, the singular form is "cleans" and the subject of the predicate clause is "she", so we should use the singular "she cleans". But that doesn't sound right.  So what is going on?


Well, clean is not being used as a verb in this sentence, so the singular/plural issue does not apply. Clean can be an adjective, an adverb, or a noun. In this case, clean is an adverb, part of an adverbial phrase -- clean her desk -- that follows the sentence object she.


The teacher ordered that she clean her desk.

link answered Aug 20 '12 at 14:14 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow

Clean: an adverb? Would you please elaborate?

Rahul GuptaAug 20 '12 at 14:19

I blew my answer here -- see Tolley's answer and my mea culpa below. But yes, clean can function as an adverb. See the Oxford Online Dictionary for examples -- either the US or British versions show similar definitions.

Jeff PribylAug 20 '12 at 20:17

Thanks, I found it.

Rahul GuptaAug 21 '12 at 13:09

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