There is / are a great number of restaurants.

cool-jupiter

Senior Member
Japanese
Hi, native speakers. Here is the thing that's been bugging me for a while.

(A) There is a great number of restaurants in this town.

(B) There are a great number of restaurants in this town.

A friend from mine, who's from California USA, says that (A) is better than (B). I don't want to agree with him there, because of the disagreement in number in Sentence (A). I've heard people say stuff like "That's so many of them!" or "There's a lot of them." or "That's too many of them." In cases like this, I guess it's ok to use is and plural nouns at the same time. Does the same thing goes for the above sentences? Your feedback would be really welcomed!
 
  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    For me:

    There is a great number of restaurants in this town.
    There are a great many restaurants in this town.
    There are many restaurants in this town.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    'A number of' doesn't affect the plurality of the following noun, and the verb agrees with the following noun:

    A great number of restaurants have opened recently.

    You're not saying that the number has opened (or done anything), you're saying the restaurants have. This is a clear situation. The same thing remains true when you put it after 'there': there are many restaurants; there are a great number of restaurants. This situation is less clear because there's some variability with 'there': we commonly say contracted there's before a plural. However, that shouldn't affect the basic point.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I agree with etb.

    A rule of thumb:
    ~ use "is" with "the number": The number of restaurants in this town is large.
    ~ use "are" with "a number": There are a [large] number of restaurants in this town.
     

    cool-jupiter

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Copyright - Although I'm still a bit confused, I find your example sentences quite interesting. Thank you. I'll keep thinking about them.

    entangledbank - Hmm. So, when it comes to there as a subject, both is/was and are/were are acceptable... So much to learn!

    Loob - Thanks for your feedback. As far as I'm concerned, your explanation is the most simple and hence understandable. I think I'll try to adhere to the rules you provided. Again, thanks.
     

    FoolishQuestions

    Senior Member
    Hindi- India
    The OALD also says a plural verb is needed after a/an (small, large, etc.) number of. So the same rule should obviously apply when the verb precedes such an expression.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I'll have to recalibrate. :) Which is fine – that's why I'm here. Thanks, all.

    (I may have been reverse engineering from "There's a large number of ...")
     
    Last edited:

    Shiningstar94

    New Member
    Italian-Italy
    Hi,
    my English book reports an impersonal structure which consists in:
    'there'+passive+'to'+infinitive, as in "there is believed to be an increase in migration to cities". My doubt is: what if the subject is plural? For example, which is the correct alternative between:
    1) there is estimated to be 70 million people moving to cities each year.
    2) there are estimated to be 70 million people moving to cities each year.
     

    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    Hi,
    my English book reports an impersonal structure which consists in:
    'there'+passive+'to'+infinitive, as in "there is believed to be an increase in migration to cities". My doubt is: what if the subject is plural? For example, which is the correct alternative between:
    1) there is estimated to be 70 million people moving to cities each year.
    2) there are estimated to be 70 million people moving to cities each year.
    Both sentences are badly, or at least very awkwardly, constructed. "There is/are" should take a noun or noun clause, not a clause containing a verb (moving). Instead, you should say "It is estimated that 70 million people move to cities each year."
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Hi,
    my English book reports an impersonal structure which consists in:
    'there'+passive+'to'+infinitive, as in "there is believed to be an increase in migration to cities". My doubt is: what if the subject is plural?
    I think the way to tackle that is to temporarily remove the phrase "estimated to be" from the sentence and then use either "there is" or "there are" according to whether what follows is singular or plural.

    So I'd say "There are estimated to be 70 million people..."
     
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