<There have been> vs <there has been> a number of...

Hello everyone!

Nevertheless, there have been a number of significant improvements in their situation in the last two months.
Here is unclear, why is used 'have' while we having 'a number' after 'been'. Or 'a number' don't play a role here? :confused:

Since the Millennium Summit, there has been a greater resolve in African leadership to take ownership and control over the continent's destiny.
Here is quite clear. 'A greater resolve' match to 'there has been' and my expectations.

Or I definetely know nothing about Grammar in this particular case. :confused:

Yalta
 
  • Englishmypassion

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi
    "A number of significant improvements have been..."

    "A number of (+ plural noun)" takes a plural verb.

    "The number of (+ plural noun)" takes a singular verb.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    What is the source of "Nevertheless, there have been a number of significant improvements in their situation in the last two months."?

    The sentence can be seen in two ways:
    1. ...there have been {a number of improvements ...} -> 1. ... there have been {five improvements ...} In this, "a number of" has been substituted for a real number, thus creating a phrase that implies a plural quantity.

    2. ...there has been a number {of significant improvements ...} -> 2. ... there has been {a singular noun} of improvements.

    The question is "(i) Has there been a number or (ii) have there been improvements?" In this case there have been improvements.

    But
    A man orders 20 dresses that he will sell in his shop, but some of the dresses are not of the colours that he ordered:
    He says "A number of the dresses are wrong." -> Some of the dresses are the wrong items.

    Then the man notices that the order number for some of the dresses is wrong
    He says "The number of the dresses is wrong." -> It is the number that is wrong.
     
    Last edited:

    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    The phrase "a number of"
    The phrases "a number of; a large number of" are used with countable nouns. If these phrases are in the function of the subject, the plural form of the verb is used. For example:
    A large number of books from his collection were donated to school libraries.
    A number of students were present at the conference. (usefulenglish.,ru)
    In your context: there have been a number of significant improvements - "a number of significant improvements" is the grammatical subject.
    More examples:

    There are a (large) number of mistakes in this exercise.
    There are a (large) number of problems with this plan.
    There were a (large) number of people waiting for the tram.
     
    OK guys,
    as I get that issue, the main point of this is construction 'a (large) number of', which should be considered as plural object which takes a verb in plural form.

    By the way, a word 'there' that stands just before 'have been', does it have to do with construction 'there's'? Or perhaps it's translated as some sort of passive?

    Yalta
     

    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    "There" in "there is" or "there are" is a dummy subject. See The phrases "there is; there are" (usefulenglish.ru):
    The phrases "there is; there are" (there was, there were, there will be, etc.) are a special type of predicate that is placed at the beginning of the sentence; the subject is placed after the predicate.
    The phrases "there is; there are" are used when you want to say WHAT is in some place. Compare these sentences: The book is on the table. (The sentence tells you WHERE the book is.) – There is a book on the table. (The sentence tells you WHAT is on the table.)
    and:
    "It" and there": We use there as a dummy subject with part of the verb be followed by a noun phrase. (britishcouncil)
    The same applies, of course, to "there was a lot of traffic in town", "there has been a snowstorm overnight", "there will be pirozhki (everydayrussian) for supper".
     
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