[Grammar] A variety of reasons were given.

ambitious-girl

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Hi,
which one do sound correct?

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

emsr2d2

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Hi.
Which one [STRIKE]do[/STRIKE] 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.
 

ambitious-girl

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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.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/variety_1?q=variety
 

Raymott

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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.
 

GoesStation

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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.
 

Barb_D

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"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
 

Phaedrus

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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.
 

Phaedrus

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