the phrase "a large number" takes is or are?

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Please see the following sentence and advise me whether it is right or wrong?

See example:

An inference may be drawn from this estimation that a very large number of companies are involved in the military business, which indicates the breadth and depth of the business.
asked Jan 22 '13 at 11:08 Saddam Hossain New member

4 answers


8

Here's a simple way to remember this grammar point: "a number of" always takes a plural verb; "the number of" always takes a singular verb. No exceptions.

link comment answered Jan 26 '13 at 18:39 Sandy Contributor
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A very large number of friends on Facebook is impressive.

 

A very large number of friends on Facebook are impressive.

 

So what about these two. the first one sounds right to me but why?

 

Thanks,

 

Michelle

link comment answered Mar 29 '16 at 23:02 Michelle New member
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Think of it as "(Having) a large number of friends on Facebook is impressive."

link comment answered Apr 07 '16 at 12:21 LJ New member
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"[...] a very large number of companies are involved [...]" sounds wrong to me, in terms of grammatical congruence.


To my understanding, "a large number" is singular, not plural (otherwise, it should read something like"several/some large numbers"). The part "are involved" goes back to "a large number", not "companies". You wouldn't say "a very large number are involved". Thus, it should be either of the following:

 

"A very large number of companies is involved" (sing.: a large number is)

"Many companies are involved" (plur.: many are)

 

The same goes for other languages, for example German:

 

"Eine sehr große Anzahl von Unternehmen ist beteiligt" (sing.: eine große Anzahl ist)

"Viele Unternehmen sind beteiligt" (plur.: viele sind)

 

Think about it...

link comment answered Mar 05 at 12:22 Sascha Mauel New member

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