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  1. #1
    zoltari is offline Newbie
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    Default Using 'is' and 'are' is a sentence...

    I am so very confused and suspect I am using is and are incorrectly, but I just don't know... The more I think about it, the more confused I become.

    When I read other people's uses of is and are, I get confused as they always sound wrong to me. Can anyone explain in very simple terms how to use the correct one?

    Example

    a) A large range of books is available
    b) A large range of books are available

    I would use b when speaking or writing, as it sound correct to me; a just doesn't seem to flow when read out loud. It sounds odd to me.

    I assume that "a large range of books is avaiable", is correct because range is singular? So, I could say, "manybooks are available",? Maybe?

    a) There is a huge number of people in the world
    b) There are a huge number of people in the world

    In the above, would a be correct again? Yet again, to me, b sounds correct.

    The more I think, the more lost I become.

    Anyone? Can you explain it simply so I can apply the rule in future?

    Many thanks

    Zoltar.

  2. #2
    engee30's Avatar
    engee30 is offline Key Member
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    Post Re: Using 'is' and 'are' is a sentence...

    Quote Originally Posted by zoltari View Post
    I am so very confused and suspect I am using is and are incorrectly, but I just don't know... The more I think about it, the more confused I become.

    When I read other people's uses of is and are, I get confused as they always sound wrong to me. Can anyone explain in very simple terms how to use the correct one?

    Example

    a) A large range of books is available A range of is not the same as, say, A lot of, the latter of which is a quantifier after which you use a singular or plural verb depending upon the noun they are used with:
    A lot of people were...
    A lot of mineral water was...


    b) A large range of books are available

    I would use b when speaking or writing, as it sound correct to me; a just doesn't seem to flow when read out loud. It sounds odd to me.

    I assume that "a large range of books is avaiable", is correct because range is singular? So, I could say, "manybooks are available",? Maybe?

    a) There is a huge number of people in the world
    b) There are a huge number of people in the world A number of is a quantifier, hence you use a plural verb only (since number is never used with singular nouns); the number of is not a quantifier, so you use a singular verb with it (followed by a plural verb only):
    The number of people was...


    In the above, would a be correct again? Yet again, to me, b sounds correct.

    The more I think, the more lost I become.

    Anyone? Can you explain it simply so I can apply the rule in future?

    Many thanks

    Zoltar.
    Cheers

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Using 'is' and 'are' is a sentence...

    With regard to their use in the constructions 'the number of +plural noun' and 'a number of + plural noun', it is not so difficult if you just look whether the phrase begins the 'the' or 'a'.
    Take:
    The number of people affected remains small.

    Here, the number of + plural noun is used with a singular verb. (The noun 'number' is the principal noun and is taken to agree with the verb, rather than the noun 'people'.)

    A number of people remain to be contacted.
    Here, with 'a number of + plural noun' , it is used with a plural verb. In this case, it is the noun 'people' that acts as the prinicipal noun and with which the verb agrees. The reason is: 'a number of' acts as if it were a single word, in the same way as 'some' or 'several'.
    So: A number of/some/several people remain to be contacted.
    Rule: If 'A number', then the verb agrees with the noun that comes after 'of'
    If 'The number', then the verb is always singular.
    Last edited by David L.; 28-Mar-2008 at 16:32.

  4. #4
    zoltari is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Using 'is' and 'are' in a sentence...

    Many thanks to you both... understand this a little better now.

    It would appear that this is one of those things where, when spoken, it sounds different, like when people say of instead of have: really they are saying 'ave, but I see lots of people on the Internet writing, 'I would of done this...', which I know is wrong.

    I was gettinf confused because the is / are choice is not always obvious at first (well, not to a person who's Mother Tongue isn'y English).

    I think I have it now, but if anyone can clarify a very simple rule to define if I use is or are, I would like very much to know it.

    There are many things I don't yet understand, so I thank you very much for your help.

    Zoltar.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Using 'is' and 'are' is a sentence...

    Rule: Is the subject of the sentence regarded as a plural noun, or singular?
    If singular, use 'is'
    If plural use 'are'

    verb 'to be' :
    he/she/it/a dog/the cat is
    we/you/they/people/dogs are
    EXCEPT: I am

    The difficulty is understanding 'countable nouns' and 'uncountable nouns'
    Last edited by David L.; 28-Mar-2008 at 23:39.

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