Jul 29

IELTS Grammar: Subject/verb agreement

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.

EXAMPLES:

  • 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.
is or are
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.

EXAMPLES:

  • 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.
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