multitude [there is/are a multitude]

Jullowyn

New Member
France
Hey everyone!

Could someone please answer this question: do we say "there IS a multitude of things" or "there ARE a multitude of things"?
I had written "there is" in my essay, and my English teacher said that it was "there are"...
I'm a bit confused because I've found both on the Internet.

Could someone help me, please?
Thanks a lot in advance!

Have a nice day!
Julie
 
  • panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    It all depends.

    If I were writing about a large crowd of people, I would talk about a multitude, and I would write "the multitude is ....", or "... there is a multitude ..."

    But are a multitude of other contexts in which I would consider a multitude to be plural.

    This is a BE view.
    Sorry, this is a Panj view of the BE usage.

    If you post the sentence you wrote we would be able to comment on that particular example, not only the general principle.
     

    Jullowyn

    New Member
    France
    Thank you for your answer, Panjandrum. :)

    Well, the sentence I had written in my essay is "there is indeed a multitude of other reasons that we are going to highlight."

    So, do you think this sentence is correct? Or should I have written it with "there are"?

    Thank you so much for your help!

    Julie
     

    Jullowyn

    New Member
    France
    Thanks, Silvaninha. :) But I really meant "a multitude" and not "multitudes". My teacher said that "is" was wrong and that it was instead "there are a multitude of other reasons". But I still doubt; I thought both could be said.

    Thanks again for your answer! :)
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I would have written there are in that sentence.

    But listen for others.

    Questions similar to this come up very often - here is another current thread:
    do you use plural with "a lot of"

    Forum search for countable will find many of them.

    What's more, Mrs P beat me around the ears this morning because I complained about a BBC news reporter complaining about an audit report criticising education standards in schools here that included "there are a range of measures that could be .....".

    The BBC reporter said this was dreadful in a report criticising the standard of teaching in our schools.
    I said the BBC reporter was talking rubbish.
    Mrs P said I was talking rubbish.
    It sounds as if your teacher would say that Mrs P was talking rubbish:D
     

    Jullowyn

    New Member
    France
    lol

    Panjandrum, I'm sure he would say so. :D

    Thank you very much for your answer. It really helps. :) So, I'm going to rely on your opinion and my teacher's. ;)

    Thanks again!
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Hi Jullowyn,

    I'll offer a personal view, and then a few professional thoughts about this vexing topic.

    For me, the subconscious choice of a singular or plural verb to accompany 'multitude' depends solely on whether I want to emphasize the multitude, as a discrete, separate entity, or if it sounds like--in my inner brain--an adjective meaning 'a large number of' and I wish to emphasize the things, of which there are a multitude. The exception to all of this is common usage. Sometimes I choose to make multitude singular or plural because I'm used to hearing it employed in one way or the other.

    Thus, for me, there are a multitude of reasons to treat multitude as singular, and there is a multitude of evidence that grammarians follow usage, rather than prescribing a rigid stance.

    Mr. Henry Fowler (Modern English Usage, 2nd ed.):

    "Nouns of multitude etc.
    Such words...may stand either for a single entity or for the individuals who compose it... They are treated as singular or plural at discretion--and sometimes, naturally, without discretion."


    That is a sound, logical and sensible BE view. Here is an AE
    counterpart, from Bryan A. Garner's A Dictionary of Modern American Usage (Oxford U. Press, 1998).

    SYNESIS. In some contexts, meaning--as opposed to the strict requirements of grammar or syntax--governs SUBJECT-VERB AGREEMENT. Henry Sweet, the 19th-century English grammarian, used the term "antigrammatical constructions" for these triumphs of logic over grammar. Modern grammarians call the principle underlying these antigrammatical constructions "synesis".
     

    Jullowyn

    New Member
    France
    Thank you very much for your explanations, Cuchuflete. :) I understand now how I can use "multitude" in the best possible way.

    Thanks again for your help! :)
     
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