A wide range of materials are/is

Snappy_is_here

Senior Member
Japanese
Which one is gramatically correct?


A wide range of materials is/are used for the manufacture of our pipeline products.


If I consider that "a wide range" is the gramatical subject of the sentence, it should be followed by "is" but if I consider that "materials" is the gramatical subject, "are" should be used.


In such cases, can I rewirte to avoid confusion as follows?:


Materials in a wide range are used for the manufacture of our pipeline products. (Is this gramatically okay and natural?)
 
  • panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I would say "a wide range of materials are used ..." because the intention is to emphasise the variety and number of different materials.
    Here, "a range of" is rather like "a number of", which is followed by a plural verb.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    There must be previous threads on this, but it's hopeless trying to search for them. Short answer: both are correct. (Some people might disagree, but I think in practice most speakers will be quite comfortable with both, and preference will vary with dialect.)

    There are a large number of group-words that can be used as the first noun: range, group, bunch, array, raft, etc. etc. Three of them require 'are'; their own number must be ignored:

    A lot of materials are used.
    A number of materials are used.
    A couple of items are used.

    For the rest, 'range' and 'group' and so on, both are common. Some of the words can also be words that are themselves collectives of people, and you also have a choice of number with the word on its own:

    The team is/are . . .
    A large team of lawyers is/are . . .
     

    Snappy_is_here

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Than you everyone.

    Could anyone answer my second question?

    Materials in a wide range are used for the manufacture of our pipeline products.

    Is this grammatically okay and natural? Can I use this one as well?
     

    Elwintee

    Senior Member
    England English
    I would say "a wide range of materials are used ..." because the intention is to emphasise the variety and number of different materials.
    Here, "a range of" is rather like "a number of", which is followed by a plural verb.
    I usually find your answers are spot-on, Panjandrum, but I disagree with you here. For me the answer lies in the indefinite article 'a' [= one]. The phrase can be read as 'a [...] is'. In this way, we have 'a [wide range or materials/good selection of china bowls] is...'. I agree I would not say 'a number of people is...', so maybe I am contradicting myself, but for me 'number' in such a context is understood to mean any number greater than one, so the plural verb applies.
     

    Ann O'Rack

    Senior Member
    UK
    UK English
    No, it's not natural. A better solution would be to decide whether you want to stress the materials or the range, and use "are" or "is" as appropriate.
     

    JoanTaber

    Senior Member
    English Northeast USA
    According to at least one reliable reference--Parrott's Grammar for Teachers (Cambridge)--when we use expressions such a "a range, a majority, a number of..." to express quantity, we "usually" use the plural form. For example, "A wide range of people were invited."

    Parrott admits that some people prefer the singular form.
    In short, it's a style choice.
     

    panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I usually find your answers are spot-on, Panjandrum, but I disagree with you here. For me the answer lies in the indefinite article 'a' [= one]. The phrase can be read as 'a [...] is'. In this way, we have 'a [wide range or materials/good selection of china bowls] is...'. I agree I would not say 'a number of people is...', so maybe I am contradicting myself, but for me 'number' in such a context is understood to mean any number greater than one, so the plural verb applies.
    I was reflecting on this as I wandered past the shops just down the road. I expect they have become accustomed to this nutty figure mumbling strange mantras ... "A wide range of materials is ... " ... "A wide range of materials are ..."

    By the time I reached the park, I had concluded that it all depends on what I mean by "range".
    If my intention is to say that many different materials have been used, then I will use a plural verb because a range of is like a number of.
    If my intention is to say that a particular set of different materials have been used, then I will use a singular verb because a range of is like a set of.
     

    Elwintee

    Senior Member
    England English
    I was reflecting on this as I wandered past the shops just down the road. I expect they have become accustomed to this nutty figure mumbling strange mantras ... "A wide range of materials is ... " ... "A wide range of materials are ..."

    By the time I reached the park, I had concluded that it all depends on what I mean by "range".
    If my intention is to say that many different materials have been used, then I will use a plural verb because a range of is like a number of.
    If my intention is to say that a particular set of different materials have been used, then I will use a singular verb because a range of is like a set of.
    Yes, I see what you mean. I can go along with that.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    That falls right in line with how I use collectives : if it's the set (or unit) that is the subject matter, I use the singular (The team has a winning record) but if it's the components of the set (or unit) I will use the plural (The team are running out of steam). Range is the unit/set/team and materials are the members of the team. The range of materials used in this job is narrower than in any previous job. A wide range of materials are needed to fabricate this complex machine.
     
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