Summary: When to use a singular or a plural verb with the word 'number'.
A number of + plural verb
A number of is used with a plural countable noun and a plural verb:
- A number of people have complained about the price increase.
The same is true with a large number:
- A large number of protesters were outside the parliament building yesterday.
The number of + singular verb
- It's a popular school and the number of students has risen again this year.
The numbers of + plural verb
- The numbers of students are rising steadily.