The Grammarphobia Blog

Are they connected?

Q: My wife asked me something that made me wonder: “Does my mom and dad have internet?” Should that be “do” or “does”?

A: The sentence should read “Do my mom and dad have Internet?” The subject of the sentence (“mom and dad”) is plural and needs a plural verb (“do have”), not a singular (“does have”). And FYI, dictionaries generally capitalize “Internet.”

Interestingly, questions that begin with the auxiliary verb “do” can usually be answered with a “yes,” a “no,” or occasionally a “maybe.” But questions that begin with “why,” “what,” “where,” and company usually have more complicated answers.

Your wife’s sentence raises another question: what is the meaning of the word “Internet” here?

The two US dictionaries I use the most – Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th ed.) and The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed.) – define “Internet” in only one way: a system of networks connecting computers around the world.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “Internet” more broadly – as both a global computer network and the information available on it.

Like many other people, your wife is using the word even more broadly – as an Internet connection. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next editions of Merriam-Webster’s and American Heritage include this sense.

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