A high number of people doesn't... / don't...

l'erba del vicino

Member
"Italian - Italy"
Hi there,

which one is correct?
Grammatically speaking the subject of the sentence is "a high number", which being third person singular requires does / doesn't. However, from a semantic point of view - especially if we consider the complement "of people" - since the sentence refers to a collective subject, it would make sense using do / don't.
I'm a bit confused...
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    A high number of people don't, as also a lot of people don't and a couple of people don't. With these three words (in this meaning) the singular number of the head is ignored, and agreement always goes with the complement of 'of', in this case plural 'people'.
     

    kool-wind

    Senior Member
    British English
    I'm a native speaker from SE England and my opinion is,

    'A number' + plural verb.
    'The number' + singular verb.
     

    l'erba del vicino

    Member
    "Italian - Italy"
    A google search of "a high number of people don't" returned 7180000 results, whilst "a high number of people doesn't" returned five results included this thread. And the other four results, by the way, are sentenced like "a high number of people doesn't mean that..." which has a completely different meaning... So, the question seems closed. Thank you all for your answers!
     
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