There <was, were> a large number of people

Rivendell

Senior Member
Spanish / Spain
Hi,

what is the correct sentence??

- There was a large number of people who...
- There were a large number of people who...

I think the right one should be "there was" because we are talking about one single thing: "a large number". However I have listened "there were a large number of people" a lot of times, so I guess that is the right one. Maybe because "people" is plural... but still I think the verb points to "a large number" instead of "people".

I'm really confused.

Thanks in advance.
 
  • dn88

    Senior Member
    Polish
    There were a large number of people who... is correct (because the word "people" is plural).
     

    auskalo

    New Member
    spain
    Hi, I think both are correct.
    But, I´ve heard more often: there was because you are talking about one single thing: "a large number".
     

    little_vegemite

    Senior Member
    english
    Sorry to be confusing, but I've heard "there were a large number of people" more often and that sounds more natural at any rate.
     

    dn88

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Hi, I think both are correct.
    But, I´ve heard more often: there was because you are talking about one single thing: "a large number".
    Only "there were" is correct here. The rules are the same as for "a lot":

    There were a lot of people who...
     

    Rivendell

    Senior Member
    Spanish / Spain
    Ok, I see it: the rule applies to "a lot of", "a large number of", "a big amount of", etc... In fact, it is like saying "many".
     

    dn88

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Ok, I see it: the rule applies to "a lot of", "a large number of", "a big amount of", etc... In fact, it is like saying "many".
    I think you are right, however, I'm worrying about "a big amount of"... Somehow I feel it needs a singular verb (but maybe that's because "amount" is used chiefly with uncountable nouns, like "water" or "blood", for example).

    Sorry for this confusion. :eek:
     

    dn88

    Senior Member
    Polish
    The confusion disappears when we remove the word "large".

    There were a number of people who...

    not: There was a number of people who...
     

    river

    Senior Member
    U.S. English
    Rivendell,

    Rule of thumb: "The number of" has a singular meaning (The number of students absent today is enormous). "A number of" takes a plural verb (A large number of students were absent today).
     

    jdenson

    Senior Member
    USA / English
    Hi,

    what is the correct sentence??

    - There was a large number of people who...
    - There were a large number of people who...

    I think the right one should be "there was" because we are talking about one single thing: "a large number". However I have listened "there were a large number of people" a lot of times, so I guess that is the right one. Maybe because "people" is plural... but still I think the verb points to "a large number" instead of "people".

    I'm really confused.

    Thanks in advance.
    Hi Rivendell,
    It might help to keep in mind that "a large number of" is a synonym for "many". Substitute "many" in your sentence and it becomes obvious that the only possibility is "there were".
    JD
     

    Rivendell

    Senior Member
    Spanish / Spain
    Thank you, guys!! These easy tricks and rules of thumb are quite useful. I'll keep them in mind!!! :)

    Regards.
    Riv.
     

    Anusa

    New Member
    Slovenian
    I would say "There were a large number of people" is correct as if we wanted to continue, we would use plural forms and not singular:

    There were a large number of people who were screaming...
    and not ......................................who was screaming
     
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