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  1. ambitious-girl's Avatar
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    #1

    A variety of reasons were given.

    Hi,
    which one do sound correct?

    A variety of reasons were given.
    A variety of reasons was given.

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: A variety of reasons were given.

    Quote Originally Posted by ambitious-girl View Post
    Hi.
    Which one do sounds correct?

    A variety of reasons were given.
    A variety of reasons was given.
    The second is grammatically correct. You'll hear both in BrE and most people won't have any idea that "were" is incorrect.

    I think you probably meant to ask "Which one is correct?" or "Are these correct?" Asking people what "sounds correct" doesn't really work. With grammar, things either are or are not correct. You can ask if words/sentences sound natural.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  3. ambitious-girl's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: A variety of reasons were given.

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    The second is grammatically correct. You'll hear both in BrE and most people won't have any idea that "were" is incorrect.

    I think you probably meant to ask "Which one is correct?" or "Are these correct?" Asking people what "sounds correct" doesn't really work. With grammar, things either are or are not correct. You can ask if words/sentences sound natural.
    Thanks teacher for informative information.

    Does Oxford state wrong definition, as it insists on the second one only?

    http://www.oxfordlearnersdictionarie...ty_1?q=variety

  4. Raymott's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: A variety of reasons were given.

    Quote Originally Posted by ambitious-girl View Post
    Does Oxford state wrong definition, as it insists on the second one only?
    Do you mean the first one? Here's a quote from the page you cite:
    "A plural verb is needed after a/an (large, wide, etc.) variety of…A variety of reasons were given."

    PS: "Insist" is too strong a word. Dictionaries generally don't insist on anything.

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    #5

    Re: A variety of reasons were given.

    I don't agree that the first is incorrect. I think nearly all Anglophones would choose it rather than the second.

    "A variety of" functions as a non-specific counting adjective like "a plethora of". The verb that follows is naturally plural.
    I am not a teacher.

  6. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: A variety of reasons were given.

    "Variety" takes the singular in something like "the variety of vegetables in his garden was impressive" where it's the range that is the focus.

    I agree that "A variety of reasons was given" is using "variety" to mean "several different reasons" which clearly takes the plural.
    If you say "The variety of reasons given was limited" that means that the range wasn't large, i.e., the reasons were similar to each other.

    In a similar way:
    A number of Xes - takes plural
    The number of Xes - takes the singular
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  7. Phaedrus's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: A variety of reasons were given.

    Right on, Barb. Bryan Garner agrees:

    When the phrase a variety of means "many," it takes a plural verb . . . . In fact, it's erroneous in that context to use a singular verb—e.g.: "There is [read are] a variety of dwelling types . . . ." When followed by a singular or collective noun, a variety of takes a singular verb—e.g.: "For the tests, a variety of equipment is attached . . . ."

    -- Garner, Bryan A. Garner's Modern American Usage (3rd Ed.), pp. 838-839. Oxford University Press: Oxford and New York, 2009.

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    #8

    Re: A variety of reasons were given.

    This seems to be a matter of opinion about style. The plural verb after a variety of * is undoubtedly more common - COCA has 47 citations for were and eleven for was - but I think it is stretching things to claim that the singular form is 'erroneous'.
    Last edited by Piscean; 24-May-2017 at 06:49. Reason: Format correction

  9. Phaedrus's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: A variety of reasons were given.

    It's not so obviously wrong as *A lot of reasons was given.
    Nevertheless, the semantics does seem similar.

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