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?
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, bsounds correct.
The more I think, the more lost I become.
Anyone? Can you explain it simply so I can apply the rule in future?
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'.
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.
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.