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  1. #1
    zkmoonea is offline Newbie
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    Lightbulb 'there is an increasing number of ' or 'there are ...'

    HI, there, this is my first time posting thread in this forum.

    I've been unsure about the following sentences for a while since my tutor told me the correct version is the second one:

    1. there are an increasing number of earthquakes worldwide.
    (there have been an increasing number of earthquakes worldwide.)
    (how about if we say 'an increasing number of earthquakes xxx happening worldwise', do we regardlessly use 'are' or 'is' in xxx???)

    2. there is an increasing number of earthquakes worldwide.
    (there has been an increasing number of earthquakes worldwide.)

    ps. some people say that to check whether it should be an is or are right before 'an increasing number of something', we just need to flip a sentence around, say in this case, we have:
    'An increasing number of earthquakes worldwide is there'

    -----------------------------------------
    Besides, I understand the verb followed by 'the number of something' is always singular, because in this sentence 'number' is the main focus; however, the verb followed by 'a large number of / a number of something' is widely considered to be plural. To me, really, I think the 'number' in both 'an increasing number of' and 'a large number of' is just a quantifier.

  2. #2
    probus's Avatar
    probus is offline Key Member
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    Re: 'there is an increasing number of ' or 'there are ...'

    Your tutor seems unduly inflexible. Both "there is" and "there are" are commonly used in sentences of this type, and no consensus exists as to which is better.

    In your example of an increasing number of earthquakes, it's easy to toss off a flippant remark about number being singular. Admittedly "there is" sounds fine, but so does "There are ..."

    As far as I know, "main focus" is not a grammatical concept. I just use what sounds euphonious to me, and I advise you to do the same. Or rather, since you are a student, I advise you to listen to what native speakers say, and imitate them. Don't let your tutor's rigid rule interfere with your learning.
    Last edited by probus; 31-Mar-2011 at 07:12.

  3. #3
    5jj's Avatar
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    Re: 'there is an increasing number of ' or 'there are ...'

    For me 'a number of' is roughly equivalent to 'some' - only a plural verb is appropriate when preceded by 'a number of Xs':

    A number of earthquakes have occurred in ...


    After 'there is/are', I prefer 'are', but 'is' seems to be acceptable: There are(is) an increasing number of earthquakes worldwide.

    'The number of' is always followed by a singular verb: The number of earthquakes worldwide is increasing.

  4. #4
    Enlightenment is offline Newbie
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    Re: 'there is an increasing number of ' or 'there are ...'

    I always thought if there's just one, it would be 'there is'
    If there are more than one, it would be, 'there are'

    However, don't quote me on it as I'm not an English teacher or student, just your average person lol.

  5. #5
    5jj's Avatar
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    Re: 'there is an increasing number of ' or 'there are ...'

    What's an average person lol?

  6. #6
    bhaisahab's Avatar
    bhaisahab is offline Moderator
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    Re: 'there is an increasing number of ' or 'there are ...'

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    What's an average person lol?
    The man on the bus/in the pub etc. laughing out loud I suppose.

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