There were a number of reports of violence

skylang

Senior Member
English
The question we are discussing here is whether the sentence should be:

There were a number of reports of violence

or

There was a number of reports of violence

I think "were" is correct, referring to the plural "reports", with "a number of" being an adjectival phrase.

My editor thinks "was" is correct as it refers to "number" which is singular, but he wants the entire sentence rewritten since it's awkward with "was".

Any thoughts to clarify?
 
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  • The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Definitely "were." "A number of" requires a plural. If your editor doesn't like it you can say "there were numerous reports..."
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Definitely 'were'. The words 'a number of', when they mean "many", are ignored for number.

    cross-posted even down to 'definitely'. Spooky.

    :tick:A number of students were late.
    :cross:A number of students was late.

    Sentences beginning with 'there' don't show number effects quite as clearly, but simple sentences make it clear.
     
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