We are having a debate in the office. There are those that say "a lot" is singular. So therefore the following sentence is correct

There is a lot of talented players on the team, but they play like a bunch of jerks .

However this does not sound right. Many of us think that it should be:

There are a lot ...

I argued that a lot really is not proper English and should be replaced with "many" and should be "There are many..." but what is the offical rule? Is it because when we say a lot or people we are really not refering to a singular group? Here is another one:

A lot of this is confusing

A lot of these are confusing

Some people argued that the subject in the first is "this" and therefore singular, however others disagreed saying that the prepositional phrase "of this" can't be the subject.
Any help woud be much appreciated.


I think "lot" can be both countable and uncountable, so "a lot of money is in my wallet" and "a lot of dollar bills are in my wallet" represent the uncountable and the countable uses.

A lot of this material is confusing.
A lot of these memos are confusing.

Is it stuff that you measure, or things that you count?


1. In a bottle of wine, bottle is the 'head', and wine is the 'complement'.

Likewise, in a herd of cows, herd is the 'head', and cows is the 'complement'.

And so on, for expressions consisting of nouns connected by of. So in a lot of talented players, you can easily see that lot is the 'head', and players is the 'complement'.

2. Number agreement can be with the head or with the complement. It depends on what word is the head.

For example, when the head is box, number agreement is with the head.

A box of chocolates was on the table. 

Number agreement with the head is the most usual kind of agreement. But there are some heads that do not govern number agreement. When certain words take the position of the head, the number agreement is with the complement. a lot is one of the expressions that follow the pattern of agreement with the complement. (lots, the rest, the majority, a number, all, and a few others also trigger number agreement with the complement.)

A lot of pans were on the kitchen counter.  (Not A lot of pans was ...)
Lots of sugar was used in making the icing. (Not Lots of sugar were ...)
The rest of the papers are lost. (Not The rest of the papers is lost.)

3. In the examples above, agreement is between the subject, which precedes, and the verb, which follows. However, in a sentence with existential there, as in There is/are/was/were ... , agreement is between the verb, which precedes, and the subject, which follows. Even though the order is different, agreement is still with the head or the complement as explained above.

There are a lot of pans on the kitchen counter.  (lot, therefore agreement with the complement pans)
There is lots of sugar in this icing. (lots, therefore agreement with the complement sugar)
There were a number of dissidents demonstrating in the streets. (a number, therefore agreement with the complement dissidents)

Contrast with:

There is a box of chocolates on the table.  (box, therefore agreement with the head box)

So it's There are a lot of talented players ...

And a lot is just as proper English as many. Emotion: smile


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Hi Acbarber,

Welcome to the Forums!

(I saw the "74" and missed the 01 Post)

Best wishes, - A.
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"There is not much difference between a lot of and lots of: they are both used mainly before singular uncountable and plural nouns, and before pronouns. It is the subject, and not the form lot/lots, that makes a following verb singular or plural. So when a lot of is used before a plural subject, the verb is plural; when lots of is used before a singular subject, the verb is singular."

got from some website
According to Fowler, words such as 'lot' and 'number' are, in the indefinite, plural.

For example: A lot of Americans have been victims of computer fraud...

However, in the definite, these words should be singular.

For example: The lot of documents we requested has arrived.

Personally I feel that this is a simplification, becuase Folwer was writing Modern English Usage. 'Lot' comes from the Anglo-Saxon word, 'hlot', meaning a lot or a share. It was used mainly in reference to land ownership. Now that it has come into common parlance, I see no reason why we should discontinue to use it in the singular.

For example: A lot of people is walking through the wood.

Because it is one lot of people and not two lots (in which case it would be: Lots of people are...).

If in doubt, preface the subject (that is the 'lot', the 'majority', the 'number' etc.) with 'one'.

For example: One lot of people is walking through the wood.

Besides, one has only to analyse the sentence to work it out:

'A lot of people is/are walking to work.'

[subj][genetive][verb][ verb ] [dative ]

Many broadcast personalities say things like " Here's Ted and John." It appears ...'s replaces most cases where it would be correct to say ...'re for plural uses. "There's many things you can do."

Another: He went with Ed and I. s/b He went with Ed and me. Clue, what is correct is clear when you leave out the other person... He went with me. Ed and I went with him.

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The subject-verb agreement of quantifiers (a few, a couple, a little, a lot, a bunch, no, etc.) is third person plural when the noun is countable. "There are a lot of presents under the tree." Presents = countable. When the quantifier relates to an uncountable, then the subject-verb agreement would be third person singular. "There is a lot of love around Christmas time." Love is not a countable noun. The issue with a lot is that it almost seems like a collective noun (such as a group of or a family of, etc.); however, a lot must be treated as a quantifier (such as much, many).