5 billion gigabytes of information was/were?


New Member
Hi everyone,

I got a problem when I'm writing my essay. Could you please tell me which one is correct?

5 billion gigabytes of information was produced in 2002.
5 billion gigabytes of information were produced in 2002.

I thought it should be singular as the subject is "information", but the Word AutoCorrect told me it should be "were", which made me confused.

Thank you!
  • dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Hi, ZYWang. Welcome to the forum!

    It should be "was". Even though "gigabytes" looks like a plural, it is a number, a quantity. So "5 billion gigabytes of information" is a specific quantity of the uncountable "information".

    You are smarter than AutoCorrent. :)


    Senior Member
    Hi, ZYWang. If you're looking for a clear solution to your problem, I suggest that you pick either "was" or "were" and use it. There's no consensus in here, and you're probably wasting your time if you wait for further opinions to pile up in this thread before you get on with writing your essay.


    Senior Member
    American English
    The way I see it:

    Five billion gigabytes of information were produced in 2002.
    (Gigabytes were ...)
    Five billion gigabytes of information was our output for 2012. (Gigabytes as a single sum of information.)

    If you start a sentence with a number, you should write it out – "Five," not "5."


    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    I think it should be "were", to agree with 5 billion gigabytes.

    I tried saying the sentence out loud using "was" and it sounded odd to me. :(


    Senior Member
    English UK
    I would use "were." If the sentence were "Five tons of butter was?/were? produced in 2017," there would be no question. The structure is identical.
    Egmont, I'd use "was" in the butter sentence - no question;).
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