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There is or There are ...?

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".
: Help!!

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.