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Fine-Tuning 28, The Number/A Number

 
 
Roberta
 
Reply Sat 26 Jun, 2004 01:02 pm
I haven't posted a fine-tuning in ages!

A number takes a plural verb; the number takes a singular verb.

A number of guests were dressed formally.

The number of guests who will be attending the party is still uncertain.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Jun, 2004 02:07 pm
Re: Fine-Tuning 28, The Number/A Number
Roberta wrote:
I haven't posted a fine-tuning in ages!


Right!

'number': is this the only "speciality" regarding the other collective nouns?
['Use a singular verb when the group is considered as a unit acting together. Use a plural verb when the individual members of the group are acting separately.']
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Roberta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Jun, 2004 06:14 pm
Hi Walter,

Nope. Number is not the only one.

The audience was restless.

The team is going to be late.

The group is experiencing some problems.

The way to make references to audience, team, and group plural is to refer to members of the audience, team, or group.

Some members of the audience were restless.

Three members of the team were late.

The members of the group are in disagreement about that issue.
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oristarA
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Jun, 2004 11:58 pm
I've not digged into the usage of the word number deeply.
I only simply remember that "a number of" means "many", so a plural verb is needed to match it. While "the number" just means "an indefinite quantity of units or individuals", so it is just matched with singular verb.
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