pair of eyes is | on the ocean

English grammar questions, answered by Alan

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pair of eyes is | on the ocean

Post by Brahman » Sat Mar 22, 2014 1:25 pm

Australian Deputy PM has been reported to have said, "It is more likely that a pair of eyes are going to identify something floating in the ocean."

I wonder, shouldn't it be "a pair of eyes is" and "floating on the ocean"?

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Re: pair of eyes is | on the ocean

Post by Alan » Sun Mar 23, 2014 4:50 am

1. While AmE usage would insist on the singular, BrE usage here accepts either, with the plural being actually the more common choice.

2. Although 'on' would be possible, 'in' is in fact the normal preposition with 'float' in relation to a body of water. (The assumption is that at least a very small part of the object is slightly under the surface).