1. Member
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Mar 2009
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349

The number of

Can I say, "The number of cars and car accidents is increasing," instead of "the number of cars and the number of car accidents are increasing"?
If the answer is yes, can I use the form "The number of XXX (plural), YYY (plural), and ZZZ (plural) is increasing."?

2. Re: The number of

Originally Posted by Snappy
Can I say, "The number of cars and car accidents is increasing," instead of "the number of cars and the number of car accidents are increasing"?
If the answer is yes, can I use the form "The number of XXX (plural), YYY (plural), and ZZZ (plural) is increasing."?
I would use "are". Effectively, you have said "The number of cars and the number of car accidents ..." so that's a total of two "numbers", therefore use the plural. It's easy to see why people would simply look at "The number" and assume it would be followed by "is" but you need to check the rest of the sentence.

The number of cars is increasing.
The number of car accidents is increasing.
The number of cars and accidents are increasing.

You might even hear "The numbers​ of cars and car accidents are increasing".

3. Key Member
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Re: The number of

Originally Posted by Snappy
Can I say, "The number of cars and car accidents is increasing," instead of "the number of cars and the number of car accidents are increasing"?
If the answer is yes, can I use the form "The number of XXX (plural), YYY (plural), and ZZZ (plural) is increasing."?
I would use "is" because the subject is "number".

4. Re: The number of

Originally Posted by billmcd
I would use "is" because the subject is "number".
I would use "are" because the number is not the same in the two cases. So there are actually 2 numbers.

5. Newbie
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Re: The number of

I'm not a native speaker, but as billmcd says the subject it "number." I teach my students when the subject is singular, use "is." I would use "is" in this pattern.

6. Re: The number of

Originally Posted by hetzer
I'm not a native speaker, but as billmcd says the subject it "number." I teach my students when the subject is singular, use "is." I would use "is" in this pattern.
But there is an intended ellipsis after "and" in this case. This is a case of notional accord, which overrules the rule.

7. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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Re: The number of

Originally Posted by hetzer
I'm not a native speaker, but as billmcd says the subject it "number." I teach my students when the subject is singular, use "is." I would use "is" in this pattern.
But there really are two different numbers, aren't there?

I'd be more likely to use the numbers + plural here, but the singular doesn't bother me.

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Re: The number of

Originally Posted by MikeNewYork
But there is an intended ellipsis after "and" in this case. This is a case of notional accord, which overrules the rule.
I must have dozed off during the class on "intended ellipses" and "notional accords" , but I'm going to stick with "is" based on the Humpty Dumpty Rule and his quote from Through the Looking Glass, "When I use a word it means exactly what I want it to mean, nothing more, nothing less".
Last edited by billmcd; 24-Jun-2013 at 23:14.

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Re: The number of

Originally Posted by Snappy
Can I say, "The number of cars and car accidents is increasing," instead of "the number of cars and the number of car accidents are increasing"?
To summarise, Snappy — you can please yourself.

10. Newbie
Join Date
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Re: The number of

Originally Posted by Tdol
But there really are two different numbers, aren't there?

I'd be more likely to use the numbers + plural here, but the singular doesn't bother me.
Yes, but if you talk about two different numbers, then I assume the subject should be "the numbers." "The numbers of ~ are" is of course fine.

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