Usage and Grammar
Q. Hello, CMOS Gurus—I cannot seem to locate the rule that proves (or disproves, I guess) the following to be correct: More than 28 million pounds of scrap is reclaimed every year. I thought that units of measurement or money took a singular verb, not plural (such as, three million dollars is a lot, or five miles is a long way). Are there other quantities that this applies to (such as years)? Or am I wrong entirely and should all three of my examples above take a plural verb? —A stumped copyeditor
A. For measures or money or any other quantities, when the items form a whole that isn’t meant to be divided, use a singular verb, as you have. When items are meant to be individual and countable, use a plural verb: Five hundred million Twinkies are produced each year. Since your scrap isn’t being reclaimed one pound at a time, “is” is the right choice.