When we use phrases such as ‘the number of’, ‘the proportion of’, ‘the percentage of’ or ‘the quantity of’ with a plural countable nous, we use a singular verb. This is because the subject is ‘number’, ‘proportion’, ‘percentage’ or ‘quantity’. These are singular nouns and the verb has to agree with them.
- The number of residents is higher than it used to be.
- The percentage of people living in cities has risen.
- Thee proportion of respondents who said that they supported the government was extremely low.
- The quantity of people who do their shopping online has gone up sharply.
When we use phrases such as ‘a number of’, ‘a lot of’, ‘a multitude of’, ‘a/the majority of’, ‘some of’, ‘all of’ ‘plenty of’, ‘a range of’ or ‘a variety of’ with a plural countable noun, we use a plural verb. This is because the subject of the sentence is the noun which follows ‘of’. It is plural and the verb needs to agree with it.
- A number of students have complained about the poor quality of food in the college canteen.
- A lot of us find work quite boring.
- A multitude of problems have been caused by the recent changes in weather patterns.
- The majority of companies are struggling to make a profit in these difficult trading conditions.
- Some of my colleagues are considering early retirement.
- All of the reasons given are valid.
- Plenty of people prefer not to go abroad for their holidays.
- A range of explanations have been given.
- A variety of factors lead undergraduates to drop out of their university courses.