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Large numbers of people/A large number of people

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Anais Ninn, Jan 1, 2007.

  1. Anais Ninn

    Anais Ninn Senior Member

    London, UK
    Korean
    Someone sent me a sentence which reads "Large numbers of people is protesting outside." and asked me to correct it. I wrote "A large number of people are protesting outside." to him.

    The next day, he sent me a message and said that his teacher told him that "Large numbers of..." is a correct expression. But I always hear "A number of people are...", not "Numbers of people are..." I would like your confirmation.

    Thanks a lot.

    Anais

    p.s. Happy New Year to you all!
     
  2. Victoria32

    Victoria32 Senior Member

    New Zealand
    English (UK) New Zealand
    I have heard 'large numbers of people are', on news bulletins and the like. It suggests to me, clumps of people - 10 or so in a clump, and then there are 15 clumps... each clump is a "number of people"... I really had to stop and think about it. I have definitely heard it, and that's all I can say at present. I am very tired! (New Year... you know how it is..) :)

    Vicky
     
  3. maxiogee Senior Member

    imithe
    "Large numbers of" is acceptable, but I would be careful of when and how it is used.

    I would be happy with the concept of "large numbers are" - for instance —> Large numbers are gathering in cities all across Ireland to protest…
    But these need to be discrete units - I cannot understand the use of the plural in the sentence given - where there is one protest and it is outside the one location — "Large numbers of people is protesting outside." is doubly wrong. (a) for using the singular 'is' and (b) for using the plural 'numbers' in relation to a single protesting crowd.
    Were it a piece of journalism I would assume that someone had re-written a sentence which began "Large numbers of people are assembling for a protest outside. The crowd is protesting …"
     
  4. Anais Ninn

    Anais Ninn Senior Member

    London, UK
    Korean
    Vicky,

    Thanks a lot. I think I've heard or read "large numbers of people..." before but I am curious whether it is grammatically correct or not. After I clicked the submit button, I remembered that I have, in deed, heard or read "numbers of people..." as well. (Too much champagne last night) Hmmm...I guess it is grammatically correct. Other opinions?

    Anais

     
  5. Anais Ninn

    Anais Ninn Senior Member

    London, UK
    Korean
    Thanks, maxiogee.

    "The crowd is protesting" sounds fine but would you say "A number of people is protesting."? Hmmm...this sounds odd to my ears. (I lived in Illinois for a lengthy period of time.) Could it be the BrE/AmE difference?

    Anais

     
  6. maxiogee Senior Member

    imithe
    No, I wouldn't say "a number of people is protesting."
    My points were that "Large numbers of people is protesting outside." is wrong for using the singular 'is' and for using the plural 'numbers' in relation to a single protesting crowd.

    In reference to a large cohesive crowd I wouldn't use "Large number/numbers" at all. It is a unit - "A huge crowd is…", or "Many people are…"
     
  7. Anais Ninn

    Anais Ninn Senior Member

    London, UK
    Korean
    Ah! I got your point. Thanks for clearing that up. :)

    Anais

     
  8. jacqui_80 New Member

    english
    How about: "a large crowd is protesting outside"? or if you really wanted to include the word people, then "a large crowd of people is protesting outside." Saying numbers of people requires too much brain pwoer to try figuring out whether the writer intended to write that or whether it was just the product of quick thinking.
     

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