Posted by ESC on June 05, 2004
In Reply to: There is or There are ...? posted by Bruce Kahl on June 05, 2004
: : : : Which of the above is correct or either one is fine?
: : : Are. "Number" is plural.
: : Um, well, "number" is singular, but "are" is correct.
: At first I also thought it was singular but figured you wordsmiths know better.
: If you turn the sentence around it is:
: A number of problems are/is there.
: If "number" is singular it would take a singular verb--"is"-- since problems is the object of a prepositional phrase.
: Knocking out the prepositional phrase and the sentence reads: "A number is there" or "There is a number" which sounds perfectly ok.
: But using the singular sounds awkward: "There is a number of problems".
From the Chicago Manual of Style:
Number as a collective noun takes a singular or plural verb depending on the article (definite the or indefinite a) that precedes it:
The number of pizzas ordered this year has doubled.
A number of studies have shown that stuffing a pizza with spinach triples the edibility of that sinewy vegetable.