Saturday, August 18, 2007

You've Got My Number!

When it comes to talking about numbers, here's one very easy rule: if you use the expression the number, you always use the singular form of the verb. If you're using a number, you use the plural form. Let's examine this further.

The number is singular because you are talking about one particular number: "The number of students who come in late is increasing." Think about it as having a number in your head-- "Twenty-one students were late yesterday. That number has increased today."

A number is plural because you are talking about the subject/s being counted: "A number of students were late yesterday." In this case, you are almost counting in your head--"Twenty-one students were late yesterday. Thirty students are late today."

For the number, you're referring to a particular number (25, 45, 1,000) while for a number, you're referring to what the number is referring to (25 students, 45 teachers, 1,000 schools). Both expressions can be used interchangeably. They do mean the same thing. The difference between the two only lies in the verb.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i enjoy reading and learning from your blog. you explain things very well and provide academic support.

i know this is very basic but nonetheless.. when do you use fill in, fill out, or fill on?

- Chris