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    #1

    there were a quantity of...

    Why is verb "to be" used in plural in the sentence below?

    There were a quantity of overgrown lettuces.

    The word quantity is a singular noun, isn't it?

  1. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: there were a quantity of...

    Quote Originally Posted by Lenka View Post
    Why is verb "to be" used in plural in the sentence below?

    There were a quantity of overgrown lettuces.

    The word quantity is a singular noun, isn't it?
    Yes, and was would be preferable. However, the user was thinking of "a quantity of" as meaning several, many, etc. It is a minor error.


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    #3

    Re: there were a quantity of...

    From Practical English Usage, by Michael Swan:

    "The expressions a number of and a group of are used with plural nouns and pronouns, and the verb that follows is also plural.

    A number of my friends
    are on holiday.
    A group of us have decided to hire a boat."

    I assume that the expression a quantity of is used in the same way.

    A quantity of lettuces were in the truck.

  2. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: there were a quantity of...

    Quote Originally Posted by boothling View Post
    From Practical English Usage, by Michael Swan:

    "The expressions a number of and a group of are used with plural nouns and pronouns, and the verb that follows is also plural.

    A number of my friends are on holiday.
    A group of us have decided to hire a boat."

    I assume that the expression a quantity of is used in the same way.

    A quantity of lettuces were in the truck.
    Part of this is probably a difference between AE and BE. In AE, "group" is no different from "herd". It is a singular collective noun. "Number" is different. It doesn't fit the normal definition of collective. Even AE speakers would normally use a plural verb following a "number of.....".

    I see quantity as being different from all the others, since it can be used with non-count nouns.

    A quantity of ethanol was....
    A quantity of flour was....
    A quantity of sand was....

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