Dear AP: There are so many, many answers:
1) Toss a coin. Everybody else does
2) What does it sound like it should be?
3) Well, what if you looked it up?
Door No. 3 might lead you to a reference like the Merriam-Webster Concise Dictionary of English Usage, which would tell you that (a) the "s" has nothing to do with number, (b) singular and plural verbs are both standard with "whereabouts," and (c) plural verbs appear to be more common,In other words, if you want a rule, knock yourself out. Go ahead and write one; you won't be wrong, whatever you decide. A sensible usage rule might be: OK, usually plural, but go ahead and make it singular if you're really feeling it. The world won't end either way.
What you should never -- as in, please stop wasting the time of hard-working editors -- do is invent a rule based on a nonsensical reading of the matter at hand. Why would noun-verb agreement be affected by the number of a possessive pronoun that precedes the noun?
My house is big
Our house are big
Your attitude sucks
Their attitude suck
This would seem less absurd if we weren't in the middle of the War on Editing. Time wasted on stupid questions is time diverted from the main effort. Pronouncements about bogus rules only underscore the glassholes' contention that editors are a waste of time. If this is the impression we give of editing as a craft, we should not expect editing to survive as a craft.
The AP shouldn't be wasting time on questions for which the first answer is "did you look it up?" If it must, though, it should at least avoid doing harm. Like most people in my line of work, I teach AP style as part of the basic professional toolkit. If "AP style" continues to manifest itself as a set of unintelligible, unfounded claims about some mystical grammar world, I'm going to revisit that decision in favor of some style guide that makes sense.
Labels: .War on Editing, AP, grammar, style