Q: Can you help to change the form of the verb in the sentence?

Detailed Question -

I want to change the form of the verb in the following sentence:

“None of the characters seems to be living lives; they have (choose) themselves”

1 Answer to this question

Thank you for sharing your question. This question is a little unclear and doesn’t seem to be about research publishing which is what we normally talk about on the Q&A forum. :-)

However, we are into editing (Editage), so here goes our answer:

First of all, when “none” is followed by a plural noun (in this case, “characters”), it is recommended that the verb used is also in the plural form. In this case, "seems" will change to "seem". Moreover, “living lives” sounds a bit awkward and repetitive. Instead, since you seem to be referring to the lives of these characters, you could say “living their lives.” Considering what we’ve discussed, the first half of the sentence must change to “None of the characters seem to be living their lives.”

Now, let’s talk semantics. You’ve chosen to join two independent clauses which don’t seem to have much in common in terms of meaning, using a semicolon. Note that a semicolon must only be used when two sentences are closely linked to each other. That doesn’t seem to be the case with the two clauses in this sentence.

Therefore, coming to your question about changing the verb form, let’s look at the clause “they have (choose) themselves” as a separate sentence altogether. Here, there are two possibilities for the verb “choose”: to choose or chosen. The former will be used if you want to indicate that the characters have to choose themselves i.e. when you want to denote that the event is unfolding or hasn’t happened yet, whereas, the latter will be used in a sentence to indicate that the event has already taken place. However, which one you choose, will depend on the context of the sentence.

To know more about the grammar and language issue in scientific writing, you may refer to the following resources:

Hope it helps. And good luck with your writing!