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Which is correct

Posted by Smokey Stover on July 21, 2005

In Reply to: Which is correct posted by Judy Hoyland on July 21, 2005

: Which is correct - 'There has been a number of enquiries' or 'There have been a number of enquiries' - Microsoft prefers the latter but I'm not so sure...

Agreement of number. Difficult and much discussed question. The usual answer is that it depends partly on custom, partly on which noun (or other referent) is the more important one. In this case there will be universal consent that Microsoft is correct. The basic statement is that there have been inquiries. On the other hand, "The number of attacks by insurgents has grown." We are interested in the number. But, "Lately there have been a number of unprovoked attacks." What do you care about? The number, or the attacks? Often it's much harder to choose, but if it sounds right you will probably be above criticism. SS