a / the large number of

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Garbuz

Senior Member
Russian
Many grammars write that 'a number of' agrees with a plural verb and 'the number of' - with a singular verb.

There are a number of people who will vote for it.
The number of people who will vote for it is not large.

But what if 'number' has an attribute, like:

There ... large number of people who will vote for it.
Will it be 'is' or 'are'.
To me 'There is a large number of people who ..." sounds better than 'There are a large number of people ...".
Would you agree?

Thanks.
 
  • panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    There are a large number of people ... not "is".
    Even though "number" now has an attribute, the sense is still "There are many people...".
     

    TheRacingLine

    Member
    Spanish - Colombia
    I think the reason for which "The number of..." is singular is because "number" is the subject, and the word "number" is singular.

    There are a large number of people ... not "is".
    Even though "number" now has an attribute, the sense is still "There are many people...".
    Likewise, you could say it should be "is" because even though "number" has an attribute, the sense is still "More than one person is..." (not correct)

    Additionally, you could say that "More than one person..." should be conjugated using "are" because the sense is still "There are many people... (not correct either)

    So, no, I don't find arguments such as those above (including your own) constructive (much less persuasive) because it's not always so simple. I'd rather you'd give an explaination, such as:

    It's always plural because "a number of" is modifying the noun that comes after it. The noun that follows "a number of" is the subject of the sentence and is always a plural noun - you wouldn't say, "a number of boy" or "a number of person". Therefore, you should conjugate using "are."
     
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