Singular/plural - There is or are + a <number><lot><variety> of (singular verb?/ plural verb?)

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neung

New Member
Korea - Korean & English
Which one is grammatically correct?

1. There is such a wide variety of clubs to join and fields to read about.

2. There are such a wide variety of clubs to join and fields to read about.

Is the subject of this sentence "variety"?

If two sentences above are both correct, then which one is more natural?

I wonder the difference between "a number of," "a lot of" and "a variety of." (I think they are very similar..^^)
 
  • Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Welcome to the forum, neung. Forum rules require that you provide input into your question and that you ask just one question per thread.

    Please tell us which question you would like to discuss and what you think the answer might be and why.
     

    neung

    New Member
    Korea - Korean & English
    Oh, thank you for informing me of the forum rule.

    I basically wonder which senctence is grammatically correct.

    Someone said two of them are correct, but the first one (with singular verb) is more natural.

    He said "a variety" modified with adjective "wide" is the subject of this sentece.

    I'm very confused because I think the phrase "a variety of" is similar to "a lot of" or "a number of," so plural verb are more natural in this case.
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    We have a lot of rules that you may wish to take a look at.:)

    The answer lies in the first part of the sentence... "There is such a wide variety..." The use of "wide" doesn't mean that there is more than one variety.

    The very nature and meaning of the word "variety" accomodates the adjective "wide". Think of the meaning of "variety" as "a number of different types of things"

    The fact is that "variety" is being used singularly in your sentence and, therefore, the correct word is "is".
     

    neung

    New Member
    Korea - Korean & English
    Thank you for answering me, Dimcl and Thomas Tompion.

    I thought clubs to join and fields to read about are the subject of the sentence
    and "a wide variety of" modifies them. So I thought the subject is plural and therefore the verb should be plural.

    If "a wide variety" is the subject of this sentence, then the verb should be singular.

    However, I'm still a little confused. Is "a variety of" the similar expression like "a lot of/a number of" and so on, or not??? They have similar form, so they make me think like that.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think to your question is yes, Neung: a variety is a singular collective noun, like a lot of and a number of.

    I think that the plural force of what follows these collective nouns makes most BE speakers say:

    There are a number of people not there is a number of people
    There are a lot of people not there is a lot of people
    There is a variety of choice but there are a variety of choices.

    For me the plural force of what follows these collective nouns makes it hard for the ear to justify a there is.

    Add to this the fact that many people are careless with there is/are, partly because there're, the common contraction for there are, is a bit hard to say and clumsy on the ear, so people say horrors like there's lots of things to see at ..., and you have a recipe for confusion.
     

    Gwan

    Senior Member
    New Zealand, English
    Personally, while I accept it's incorrect, I don't find there's lots of things to see... particularly grating in spoken English. As well as the difficulty in saying 'there're' I think it's also partially because the verb's at the beginning of the sentence before the subject, which is contrary to normal English sentence structure, so people's brains don't automatically conjugate it to match the anticipated noun (you might not even know exactly what you're going to say as well). That's just my theory though.
     

    Albert53

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Language changes with time. When I was in school, I learned "a lot is..." and "lots are..." It was simple to explain. "Lot" is the subject of the sentence and a plural noun is the object of a preposition, thus part of a prepositional phrase and could not influence the number for subject-verb agreement.

    So I checked around a bit and found the American Heritage Book of English Usage endorses considering "A lot of" to be a sort of modifier of the subject:

    http://www.bartleby.com/64/C003/0200.html

    I'm wrong; the world is right.

    Albert53
     

    neung

    New Member
    Korea - Korean & English
    Thank you for replying me, Thomas Tompion, Gwan, ashamaurya, Albert53. (and useful informtion^^)

    Then, "a variety of" is a sort of a modifier like "a lot of" or "a deal of," according to the American Heritage Book of English Usage, right?

    I think it's a little controversial thing :)
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    Yes, "a variety of" is like "a number of":

    There are a number of clubs in this area.
    There are a variety of clubs in this area.
    There are a wide variety of clubs in this area.

    But with certain modifiers the number or variety becomes the real subject and is singular:

    There is such a large number of clubs in this area that one cannot attend all the meetings.
    The number of clubs in this area is astonishingly large.
    There is quite a variety of clubs in this area.
    There is such a wide variety of clubs in this area that everyone's taste can be accommodated.

    By the way, "a deal of" doesn't work without something like "great" or "good" between "a" and "deal".
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Two points in reaction to Forero's interesting post:

    1. I agree with what he says about 'a deal of', in modern use, but am aware that 'a deal of', without a modifying adjective, was common until quite recently in the language - examples from literature suggest in both AE and BE. Here are a few, of many I could produce:

    Bleak House by Charles Dickens: Chapter 2: ... oversleeping Rip Van Winkles, who have played at strange games through a deal of thundery weather;

    Military Memoirs of Capt. George Carleton by Daniel Defoe: Chapter 7: Notwithstanding all which the Earl persever'd; and after a deal of Labour, first got the Penalty suspended;

    Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain: Chapter 7: A deal of this 'looking at the river' was done by poor fellows who seldom

    Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare: Act 2. Scene III: Jesu Maria, what a deal of brine. Hath wash'd thy sallow cheeks for Rosaline! How much salt water thrown away in waste,

    2. The point at which the switch from there are to there is takes place occurs earlier for me than for him. He would say:

    There are a number of clubs in this area.
    There are a variety of clubs in this area.
    There are a wide variety of clubs in this area.

    For me it would have to be:

    There are a number of clubs in this area.
    There are a variety of clubs in this area.
    There is a wide variety of clubs in this area.
     
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