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    #1

    quantity/quantities of

    Very large quantities of aid were needed.
    Huge quantities of oil were spilling into the sea.

    Question 1: Could we use 'was' instead of 'were' in these two sentences since 'aid' and 'oil' were uncountable nouns?

    Question 2: Could we say 'A large quantity of books has/have been bought'?

    Thank you in advance.

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    #2

    Re: quantity/quantities of

    Quote Originally Posted by joham View Post
    Very large quantities of aid were needed.
    Huge quantities of oil were spilling into the sea.

    Question 1: Could we use 'was' instead of 'were' in these two sentences, since 'aid' and 'oil' are uncountable nouns? But "quantities" is plural, so I would keep the plural verb form in both sentences.

    but....
    A very large quantity of aid was needed.
    A huge quantity of oil was spilling into the sea.


    Question 2: Could we say 'A large quantity of books has/have been bought'? You could use either verb.
    "has" emphasizes "quantity". (the amount)
    "have" emphasizes "books".
    Thank you in advance.
    2006

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    #3

    Re: quantity/quantities of

    Thank you very much for your help, 2006. Collins Usage says to use singular verbs with 'heaps/loads/masses/tons of + singular noun':
    Masses of evidence has been accumulated.
    Is 'quantities of...' different in usage from 'masses of...'?

    Thank you again.

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    #4

    Exclamation Re: quantity/quantities of

    Quote Originally Posted by joham View Post
    Thank you very much for your help, 2006. Collins Usage says to use singular verbs with 'heaps/loads/masses/tons of + singular noun':
    Masses of evidence has been accumulated.
    Is 'quantities of...' different in usage from 'masses of...'?

    Thank you again.
    Yes, heap, load, mass, ton are all countable nouns where as ‘quantity’ is used as both. So as explained by 2006 the plural verb is used with plural form of ‘quantity’’

    Here the difference is when a singular noun(countable) or uncountable noun follow after these words, you use a singular verb. As:
    Heaps of money is lying on the floor.
    Tons of food is carried to the affected site.
    Masses of evidence has been accumulated. (evidence is uncountable)
    But if you use a plural noun after these words, a plural verb is necessary. As:
    Heaps of books and documents were destroyed in the flood.

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    #5

    Re: quantity/quantities of

    Quote Originally Posted by joham View Post
    Thank you very much for your help, 2006. Collins Usage says to use singular verbs with 'heaps/loads/masses/tons of + singular noun': That doesn't make any sense to me.

    Masses of evidence has been accumulated. I would say...
    Masses of evidence have been accumulated.
    A mass of evidence has been accumulated.

    and

    Five loads of coal were delivered.

    Thank you again.
    2006

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    #6

    Re: quantity/quantities of

    Thank you again for your help, sarat and 2006. About two years ago, I found that Collins' Usage doesn't agree with the results I got from searching the corpora and I posted my question on this forum, but nobody responded. So I'd been wondering how to use these phrases until I read 2006's reply.

    The following is the results I got from searching Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA), in line with 2006's ideas:

    MASSES OF [*nn1*] IS/HAS/WAS:
    1 MASSES OF FOOD WAS 1

    MASSES OF [*nn*] ARE/WERE/HAVE:
    1 MASSES OF PEOPLE HAVE 3
    2 MASSES OF PEOPLE ARE 3
    3 MASSES OF STUDENTS WERE 1
    4 MASSES OF SPECTATORS WERE 1
    5 MASSES OF POPULATION ARE 1
    6 MASSES OF POINSETTIAS HAVE 1
    7 MASSES OF PHLOX HAVE 1
    8 MASSES OF MIST WERE 1
    9 MASSES OF MANKIND ARE 1
    10 MASSES OF GAS WERE 1
    11 MASSES OF CLOUDS WERE 1
    12 MASSES OF ART ARE 1
    13 MASSES OF AMERICANS ARE 1 TOTAL17

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    #7

    Re: quantity/quantities of

    May I ask how British and Australian speakers would use 'quantities/masses of oil/money etc + uncountable noun' as subject?

    Thank you in advance.
    Last edited by joham; 19-Jan-2010 at 08:45.

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