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graffiti 'was' or 'were'? Options
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Posted: Monday, March 4, 2013 9:53:40 PM
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Joined: 2/20/2013
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Although 'graffiti' is the plural of 'graffito', we often hear this:

Graffiti was scrawled on the school walls.

We never hear 'Graffito was scrawled...' or 'Graffiti were scrawled...'.

Agreed?
FounDit
Posted: Monday, March 4, 2013 10:07:15 PM

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Agreed. I had never thought of whether or not the word was singular or plural. I learned something today. From TFD:

graf·fi·to (gr-ft)
n. pl. graf·fi·ti (-t)
A drawing or inscription made on a wall or other surface, usually so as to be seen by the public. Often used in the plural.
[Italian, diminutive of graffio, a scratching, scribble, probably from graffiare, to scratch, scribble, probably from Vulgar Latin *graphire, to write with a stylus, from Latin graphium, stylus, from Greek grapheion, graphion, from graphein, to write; see gerbh- in Indo-European roots.]

Usage Note: The word graffiti is a plural noun in Italian. In English graffiti is far more common than the singular form graffito and is mainly used as a singular noun in much the same way data is. When the reference is to a particular inscription (as in There was a bold graffiti on the wall), the form graffito would be etymologically correct but might strike some readers as pedantic outside an archaeological context. There is no substitute for the singular use of graffiti when the word is used as a mass noun to refer to inscriptions in general or to the related social phenomenon.[Emphasis: FD] The sentence Graffiti is a major problem for the Transit Authority Police cannot be reworded Graffito is ... (since graffito can refer only to a particular inscription) or Graffiti are ... (which suggests that the police problem involves only the physical marks and not the larger issue of vandalism). In such contexts, the use of graffiti as a singular is justified by both utility and widespread precedent.
Shivanand
Posted: Monday, March 4, 2013 10:36:42 PM
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@FounDit: Applause Applause
Kami
Posted: Monday, March 4, 2013 11:02:50 PM
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Joined: 10/12/2009
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Neurons: 687
footer wrote:
Although 'graffiti' is the plural of 'graffito', we often hear this:

Graffiti was scrawled on the school walls.

We never hear 'Graffito was scrawled...' or 'Graffiti were scrawled...'.

Agreed?


You're correct and thanks for pointing out, but don't worry. It won't be long you'll come across more of those grammatical errors in English as it's spoken here in the US.Haven't yet heard "there's four people in the room" instead of there are four people in thr room? "there's friends everywhere.
Kami
Posted: Monday, March 4, 2013 11:02:53 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 10/12/2009
Posts: 229
Neurons: 687
footer wrote:
Although 'graffiti' is the plural of 'graffito', we often hear this:

Graffiti was scrawled on the school walls.

We never hear 'Graffito was scrawled...' or 'Graffiti were scrawled...'.

Agreed?


You're correct and thanks for pointing out, but don't worry. It won't be long you'll come across more of those grammatical errors in English as it's spoken here in the US. Haven't yet heard "there's four people in the room" instead of there are four people in the room? "there's friends everywhere, "i like blue more then red" instead of i like blue more than red?
thar
Posted: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 4:58:20 AM

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Joined: 7/8/2010
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Graffiti is a word of foreign origin. But in English, it has a particular (very different) meaning, and a particular number.

The Enlish word graffiti is singular, like art, writing, painting and damage. Within particular subgenres of language, other usages of the foreign origin 'graffito' and 'grafitti' may come up in context.

leonAzul
Posted: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 5:59:15 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 8/11/2011
Posts: 8,589
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Location: Miami, Florida, United States
footer wrote:
Although 'graffiti' is the plural of 'graffito', we often hear this:

Graffiti was scrawled on the school walls.

We never hear 'Graffito was scrawled...' or 'Graffiti were scrawled...'.

Agreed?

In English, the word "graffiti" is treated as a collective noun and usually singular.

It would be correct but unusual to say "A graffito was scrawled on the wall", or "Many graffiti were scrawled on the wall."
towan52
Posted: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 11:00:09 AM
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Joined: 8/28/2012
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From a pragmatic point of view, maybe it should be "Graffiti woz here" Eh?
Blooper
Posted: Friday, March 8, 2013 10:08:01 AM
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Joined: 10/4/2010
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Location: South Borneo
Thank you for your helps. Be they in the past, in the present, or in the future.

Which one is correct, be they in the past or were they in the past?
leonAzul
Posted: Friday, March 8, 2013 10:28:52 AM

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Joined: 8/11/2011
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Location: Miami, Florida, United States
Blooper wrote:
Thank you for your helps. Be they in the past, in the present, or in the future.

Which one is correct, be they in the past or were they in the past?

Both are "correct" for different reasons.

"Be they in the past" expresses present subjunctive mood. This is most likely what you intended.

"Were they in the past" could be either past tense or past subjunctive. Either way, it wouldn't work well with the rest of your sentence, but it could be grammatically correct.

Blooper
Posted: Friday, March 8, 2013 10:38:59 AM
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Joined: 10/4/2010
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Location: South Borneo
Great, thank you. I'll take "be" without a doubt anymore.


Oops! I took the wrong thread. I was searching a "present/past" thread.
early_apex
Posted: Friday, March 8, 2013 10:40:28 AM
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Joined: 4/20/2009
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Location: Spindletop, Texas, United States
Graffiti is a thing, so it just is. Not something that can be counted. We view it like a mold that appears on a surface overnight.

Also, it is produced by taggers or vandals, and never by a single tagger or vandal working alone. Like hooligans, you don't recognize them when they are by themselves.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Friday, March 8, 2013 3:53:52 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
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Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
Yer - should be shot. This Michelangelo fella, drawin' all over church walls, fer instence:

Michelangelo - Graffiti



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