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Is idiom the numbers of always wrong?

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Is idiom the numbers of always wrong? [#permalink] New post 22 May 2013, 08:20
Hi,


I have come across the usage of the idiom "a/the number of" . I read somewhere that usage of the idiom "the numbers of" is always wrong. Is it true?
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Re: Is idiom the numbers of always wrong? [#permalink] New post 22 May 2013, 10:37
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swati007 wrote:
Hi,
I have come across the usage of the idiom "a/the number of" . I read somewhere that usage of the idiom "the numbers of" is always wrong. Is it true?

For practical GMAT purposes, you can always consider "the numbers of" incorrect. It's hard to say "always" to anything in grammar, but for GMAT purposes, you are safe if you make a rule of avoiding this.
Mike :-)
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Re: Is idiom the numbers of always wrong? [#permalink] New post 23 May 2013, 06:01
Hi mikemcgarry,

Thanks for the reply.
But i have come across below question in OG verbal review 2nd edition. In the explanation, no where OG says that it is wrong to use 'the numbers of'. Instead it says "The plural numbers means a large crowd or multitude" . I am confused if GMAT does consider it wrong or not. This is qns no 6 of verbal review 2.

A Labor Department study states that the numbers of women employed outside the home grew by more than a thirty-five percent increase in the past decade and accounted for more than sixty-two percent of the total growth in the civilian work force.

(A) numbers of women employed outside the home grew by more than a thirty-five percent increase
(B) numbers of women employed outside the home grew more than thirty-five percent
(C) numbers of women employed outside the home were raised by more than thirty-five percent
(D) number of women employed outside the home increased by more than thirty-five percent
(E) number of women employed outside the home was raised by more than a thirty-five percent increase
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Re: Is idiom the numbers of always wrong? [#permalink] New post 23 May 2013, 11:07
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swati007 wrote:
Hi mikemcgarry,

Thanks for the reply.
But i have come across below question in OG verbal review 2nd edition. In the explanation, no where OG says that it is wrong to use 'the numbers of'. Instead it says "The plural numbers means a large crowd or multitude" . I am confused if GMAT does consider it wrong or not. This is qns no 6 of verbal review 2.

A Labor Department study states that the numbers of women employed outside the home grew by more than a thirty-five percent increase in the past decade and accounted for more than sixty-two percent of the total growth in the civilian work force.
(A) numbers of women employed outside the home grew by more than a thirty-five percent increase
(B) numbers of women employed outside the home grew more than thirty-five percent
(C) numbers of women employed outside the home were raised by more than thirty-five percent
(D) number of women employed outside the home increased by more than thirty-five percent
(E) number of women employed outside the home was raised by more than a thirty-five percent increase

Dear swati007
In my understanding, the OA of this question is (D). Thus, "numbers of" does not wind up as part of the correct answer. Keep in mind, for any GMAT SC question, there are often quite a few things to explain, and the official explanations (known for their brevity) don't necessarily cover all of them. Furthermore, I would call the "numbers of" rule not black & white, but dark gray, and even though the official questions never include the dark gray stuff in a correct answer --- it only appears in incorrect answer choices --- the official explanations tend to remain silent on the dark gray areas. This is one of the problems of studying using only official material --- sometimes, the official material has strong opinions or priorities that they don't make explicit. Only the private test company folks, such as I, will tell you these things.

In this question, we are simply talking about lots and lots of women. In other words, there's a large number of women. If we gathered all the women who worked outside the home, put them in one place, and counted them, we would have a single number. If, when you count whatever you are going to count, you wind up with a single number, then you must use "number of", not "numbers of". In order to justify the use of the word "numbers", we would have to be comparing two different things that we counted. For example,
The numbers of policemen and firemen have not be keeping pace with the number of lawyers.
In that sentence, the use of "numbers" would be correct, because we count how many policemen --- that's one number --- then we count how many fireman --- that's another number. Since we counted more than once, we have more than one number. That would be a legitimate use of "numbers of", but I would say the GMAT is extremely unlikely to test such an arcane point as this.

Does all this make sense?
Mike :-)
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Re: Is idiom the numbers of always wrong? [#permalink] New post 27 May 2013, 01:07
Hi mikemcgarry,

Thank you for such a nice explanation. Now, I am clear about the usage of number of and numbers of
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Re: Is idiom the numbers of always wrong? [#permalink] New post 28 May 2013, 13:22
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swati007 wrote:
Hi mikemcgarry,

Thank you for such a nice explanation. Now, I am clear about the usage of number of and numbers of

Dear Swati,
You are more than welcome.
Mike :-)
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Re: Is idiom the numbers of always wrong?   [#permalink] 28 May 2013, 13:22
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