A range of examples is/are discussed

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Senior Member
So you have a singular expression [a range of...] including a plural noun, which is also the most important element of the expression [...examples]. Does the verb agree with the overall expression or with the noun? Is there a rule saying that the verb agrees with what's closer to it?

E.g. "A range of examples are discussed" vs "A range of examples is discussed"

"A range of examples show" vs "A range of examples shows"

Does the fact that I only get 8 hits for the former and 3 for the latter on google search indicate that the expression "range of examples" is itself problematic?

  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    It can go either way. With group words like 'range', 'group', 'array', both possibilities often sound right.

    I have a sort of test for this: Is the range discussed? Do we discuss the range? Or do we really just discuss the examples? Are they the only things discussed? Some more unusual group words like 'slew' and 'bunch' fail this test. I'm never discussing the bunch, so I would say a bunch of examples are . . .


    Senior Member
    U.S. English
    In AE, I'd also use "are" here.
    Both are correct, whether in American English or another dialect. As mentioned above, it depends if you are focusing on the "range" or on the "examples". In American speech, it is most common (in speech) to focus on the word closest to the verb in question (in other words, "examples" is closer to is/are in the sentence than "range"). To me it sounds more formal and less natural to say "a range of examples is discussed" and that is probably why you got more hits with "are". But again, both are perfectly correct and you will hear both in speech and writing.

    Take another example:

    "There is/are a wide range of examples..." I would be willing to bet that most Americans tend to say "There´s a wide range of examples" in speech, but when writing or speaking formally would be inclined to put "there are a wide range of examples". In this case, "is" is closer to "a range" in the sentence and it sounds more natural to say it as singular. But as a kid many of our teachers taught us the formal way was correct. Just a prescriptive grammatical tradition that doesn´t want to die.
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