1. A.I. Sajib
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    A.I. Sajib New Member

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    Confusion between singular and plural

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by A.I. Sajib, May 13, 2015.

    Hi guys, I've been watching this forum for quite a while now and this is the first time I'm opting to post. I hope this is the right sub-forum to post my question.

    Without wasting too much of your time, here's my question:

    In the following examples, should I use a singular or plural form?

    There is a good number of tips on this article.
    David as well as his roommate wants to go to movie this weekend.
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    The first one is easy:

    There is a good number of tips on this article.

    The verb is agreeing with number, which is a singular, thus singular. The plurality if tips lies on the other side of a prepositional boundary (of tips), thus it does not control.

    The second is a little trickier:

    David as well as his roommate wants to go to [a] movie this weekend.

    It's trickier because the construction is unusual. Were I to stick to your exact wording, I would write it thus:

    David, as well as his roommate, wants to go to [a] movie this weekend.


    In this case, I would leave the verb in the singular because as well as his roommate is a parenthetical aside and a separate clause. To make it plural, it would need to be a more obvious part of the clause structure that precedes.

    David and his roommate want to go to [a] movie this weekend.
     
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  3. A.I. Sajib
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    A.I. Sajib New Member

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    Thanks! I admit it is a poor example. I remember having to write this as well as several times before, but I can't quite remember a good example of that. So I just made it up to understand if I should still use singular verb when I'm adding more than one subject using as well as. Hope that makes sense. :)
     
  4. A.I. Sajib
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    A.I. Sajib New Member

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    How about the following:

    Here's a couple more options.
    There are quite a few options to approach this.
     
  5. Stacy C
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    Stacy C Banned

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    Here are a couple of more options. (Though modern usage has almost made your construction the most common, if not correct.)

    There are quite a few ways (I would say) to approach this.
     
  6. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    But @Wreybies, "a number of" is plural. Number, alone is singular, but 'number of' is like 'couple'. 'A couple' is singular, but 'a couple of' is plural.

    There is a couple of dogs there? Even if it were technically correct in some grammar textbook buried on the shelf behind an ancient English professor's desk, it doesn't sound right.
     
  7. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    @Stacy C is correct. The difference between the original example you gave and this newer example is the presence or absence of a preposition.

    In the original:

    • There is a good number [of tips on this article].

    The preposition of serves as a clause boundary. What happens on the other side of that boundary does not govern the verb's number, singular or plural.

    In your new example:

    • There are quite a few options to approach this.

    There is no preposition separating logical number that must agree with the verb. Quite a few options operates as noun phrase, and options is the word that is driving the verb's number.

    That book holds a more prominent, and less dusty place on my shelf. ;) I would say there is a number of dogs and there is a couple of dogs without hesitation.
     
  8. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I don't doubt you have that book on your shelf. But some of those sentences remain awkward.

    To my ear, regardless of the clause, "a good number" can be plural or singular depending on what one is referring to. If it's the number you won the lottery with, that would be a good number, singular. But 'a good number' when referring to things, to my ear, is plural.
     
  9. A.I. Sajib
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    A.I. Sajib New Member

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    For some strange reason, there is a number of tips... sounds right to me, while there is a number of dogs doesn't, though they are similar. Weird. :/

    Regarding "is quite a few ways..", I got tricked because there's an a before few. Now that I look closely into it, why is there an "a" before few (which indicates not singular, but plural)? Is "there are few books on the shelf" more grammatically correct than "there are a few books on the shelf?"
     
  10. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    They mean slightly different things. The first denotes scarcity, not enough, there should be more. The second simply denotes that there are some there on the shelf.

    Sometimes the presence or absence of an article can slightly alter the meaning of a phrase, to answer your prior question as to why the presence of the "a".
     
  11. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    In the sentence, "is quite a few ways..", 'ways' is the subject.
     
  12. A.I. Sajib
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    A.I. Sajib New Member

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    Thanks. That makes sense. :)

    Got it! I appreciate your help. :)
     
  13. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm actually with @GingerCoffee on this one - "there is a number of dogs" doesn't sound right to me either :confused:

    When was your grammar book published? :bigtongue::brb:
     
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  14. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    So to summarise the dusty grammar book hidden in that bookshelf somewhere...

    There are two people waiting outside. are = correct
    There are a couple of people waiting outside. are = incorrect?

    *head explodes*
     
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  15. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Or:

    There are people waiting.
    And
    There are a good number of people waiting.
     

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