a number of + determiner

elshan1980

Senior Member
Azerbaijani
Hi, everybody!

My question is about the following sentence I came across in our class tests.

A number of our sheep have died from a strange illness.

As I know "a number of" means "a lot of". As I remember we don't use "determiner" after "a lot of", am I confused?
Is the use of "our" correct in the sentence?

Thanks in advance
 
  • legendii

    New Member
    English - England
    The sentence is correct - you could remove the "our" from the sentence and it would still make sense, but it wouldn't tell us who owned the sheep.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    I agree with legendii.
    As I know "a number of" means "a lot of".
    Not quite. "A lot of" means "many". "A number of" means "some".
    As I remember we don't use "determiner" after "a lot of", am I confused?
    Yes, you are. If you came across such a "rule", you have misunderstood it. Try thinking of it as "we don't need to use a determiner after..."
    Sometimes when the context requires a determiner, that role can be filled by "a lot of", "a number of", "some", "many", etc. But when that role is filled like that, it doesn't count as (let's call it) a "full" determiner in the sense of the rule that says we should not double up determiners (we would not say "our the sheep" or "the our sheep").

    Actually, it's a little more complicated, because "some" and "many" do count as "full". We could not say "some our sheep", we would need to add "of", and if we do we still need the determiner:
    some of the sheep, some of our sheep :tick:
    some the sheep, some our sheep :cross:
     
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