Grammar Tip – Numbers and Verbs

The BizWritingTip I sent recently regarding “between you and me” caused some questions regarding the word “number.”

I wrote “Between you and me, there are a number of people who don’t get it right.”

Questions then rose around the word “number.” Does “number” take a singular or a plural verb. In other words, should it be “the number is” or “the number are.”

This is an interesting grammar point. The way it works is that “the number” has a singular meaning and requires a singular verb.

Examples

The number of people who responded to the advertisement is higher than expected.

However, “a number” has a plural meaning and requires a plural verb.

Examples

A number of your emails have spelling errors.

Therefore, I still believe there are a number of people who do not understand that you must always use “between you and me.”

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