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Which verb is correct?

There are a growing number of tour operators.

There is a growing number of tour operators.
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Comments  (Page 3) 
There is are a lot of questions which need/ needs to be answered.1

There was / were was a great deal of confusions at that moment…..2

There was were a few among us who still believed /believes that ……3
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1 'a lot of' is number transparent. Make the agreement with questions.

2 'a great deal of' can only be followed by singular noun. The agreeing verb must take this into account.

3 'a few' is not number transparent. It is inherently plural. Make the agreement with the plural 'a few'. Tense agreement would make for a smoother effect here as well.

1, 2, 3 All three of these use the there construction. In these the verb after there must agree with the relevant noun which follows the verb.

CJ
Califjim Hi. As I see it. Please correct me if you think I am wrong. There was a great deal of confusion is what it should read. Great to have the opportunity to listen to so many informed people. There are so many grey areas and Latin grammar simply does not suit the English language hence the irregularities.I remember at school having the head yell out, "See that none of you is late." Sounds awful but perfectly correct.
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CalifJimThere is are a lot of questions which need/ needs to be answered.1

There was / were was a great deal of confusions at that moment…..2

There was were a few among us who still believed /believes that ……3
_________________

1 'a lot of' is number transparent. Make the agreement with questions.

2 'a great deal of' can only be followed by singular noun. The agreeing verb must take this into account.

3 'a few' is not number transparent. It is inherently plural. Make the agreement with the plural 'a few'. Tense agreement would make for a smoother effect here as well.

1, 2, 3 All three of these use the there construction. In these the verb after there must agree with the relevant noun which follows the verb.

CJ

Thanks CJ,

You know, I must have misunderstood or been taught the substandard English grammar early on.

All the “transparent” phrases, as you called them, were in my mind of singular in nature. i.e. there is a lot/ a few / great deal/ plenty of…etc..

What got me was the “a” which lead me to think of it as “one” and therefore associated with “there is”. Thanks for straightening me out!

Glad to be of help. Be cautious, however, because not every combination in that pattern is number transparent. The majority of them, in fact, govern verb agreement from the head of the expression, not from the complement:

A box of tools was found in the garage. (box - was; not tools - were)
There is a box of tools in the garage. (box is;
not tools are)

Note on the terms head and complement:

the rest of the food Head: rest Complement: food
a box of tools Head: box Complement: tools

CJ
Hi CJ,

Thanks again. I am fully aware of the hidden property of the transparency in some of the examples you pointed out. Emotion: smile
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Hi everyone,
these things are tricky... It would be useful to make a list of these kinds of tricky expressions. I think "a variety of" is another number transparent expression, but there are some other, aren't there?
There are a number of students who are...
There are a variety of operating systems that are...
There are a couple of problems that are...
...?


Plus, there are expressions even more confusing that, if I'm not mistaken, are number transparent but only for the verbs that follows that expression. An example is "a group of", I think:
There is a group of students who are...
...?


Umm, you know what? Maybe it's not that "a group of" is really a strange expression. On second thought, maybe it's not number transparent ("there is a group..."), it's just the following verb that is chosen depending on what you want it to refer to. So maybe "a group of" is not different from "a box of".
Here is a group of students who weren't allowed to take the test. (the students weren't)
Here is a group of students who is only made up of males. (the group is)
This is a box of tools that was left here by American soldiers. (the box was left)
This is a box of tools that were left here by American soldiers. (the tools were left)

So, having said that, maybe we should only worry about real "number transparent expressions". A few other tricky ones just came to my mind: a bunch of, a series of, an avalanche of...
The fact is I think some number transparent expressions can actually also be used as "non-trasparent" or "collective expressions". And I'm afraid "a series of" and "a couple of" might be two of them that could be used both ways. Example:
This is a series of episodes that were first aired in 2002... (used as "collective", episodes were...)
This is a series of episodes that was first aired in 2002... (used as "collective", the series was)
These are a series of common mistakes that are often made by native speakers... (used as "number transparent")


If anyone feels like commenting and finding out the more common number transparent expressions, I think it would be a good idea to post here. Thanks Emotion: smile
Arggghhh! I've created a monster! Emotion: smile

This is a box of tools that was left here by American soldiers. (the box was left)
This is a box of tools that were left here by American soldiers. (the tools were left)

Exactly! This has nothing to do with number transparency.

You know, I don't think there is a list of these anywhere. Maybe someone will do some Google research and find out. I predict that the problem will be that some grammarians classify certain expressions one way, and others, another way. I'm not sure there is 100% agreement among writers on the subject1. And I'm also not certain that the term 'number transparent' is widespread, although Huddleston uses it (Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics Series).

CJ

1 For example, in ordinary conversation, I tend to treat "none of" as number transparent, but this is a big no-no for most (prescriptive) grammarians.
CalifJimFor example, in ordinary conversation, I tend to treat "none of" as number transparent, but this is a big no-no for most (prescriptive) grammarians.

So do I.

If I remember correctly, the OED traces the plural usage back to OE. So we're not alone.

MrP

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