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"A Number of" Singular vs Plural

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New post 28 Feb 2018, 21:36
Hello,

My first post here. I've signed up for Princeton review about a months ago. I'm going through their coursework. Unfortunately, I found several errors (18) in there answers. So it's hard to trust their answers and explanations. I am hoping someone can shed a light on this question.

Choice 1: "a seemingly limitless number of needs and desires, all of them arising out of"
Choice 2: "a seemingly limitless number of needs and desires, each arising from"

From Manhattan prep course SC, I thought "a number of" is always plural and "the number of" is always singular. On this question, I selected choice 1 because "a number of" is plural. But on the answer explanation, it shows that choice 2 is the correct answer since "a number of" is singular.

Which is correct?
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New post 28 Feb 2018, 22:10
Hi jooyoung99,

Choice 1: "a seemingly limitless number of needs and desires, all of them arising out of"
Choice 2: "a seemingly limitless number of needs and desires, each arising from"

Please let me correct your answer.

see you are saying 'a number of' is plural but here the sentence says 'a seemingly limitless number of needs and desires'. there is a differnce as in choice 1 an adjective is attached to the 'number' keyword and so its a different sentence all together .

Rule is
' the number of' is singular. - ex. the number of people wants to study. Here wants is singular verb
'a number of' is plural - ex' a number of people want to study. Here want is plural verb

Now why the choice 2 is correct.
do you notice 'a seemingly limitless number of needs and desires' is a modifier and 'each' has been used . we know that each is always singular'


best of luck
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Re: "A Number of" Singular vs Plural  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Feb 2018, 22:36
jooyoung99 wrote:
Choice 1: "a seemingly limitless number of needs and desires, all of them arising out of"
Choice 2: "a seemingly limitless number of needs and desires, each arising from"

From Manhattan prep course SC, I thought "a number of" is always plural and "the number of" is always singular. On this question, I selected choice 1 because "a number of" is plural. But on the answer explanation, it shows that choice 2 is the correct answer since "a number of" is singular.

Hi jooyoung99, I am assuming you did not choose choice 2 because you thought that each (singular) does not align with needs and desires (plural).

The thing is that when we say that a number of is always plural, what me mean is that the verb associated with a number of will be plural.

However, here, all of them / each is not really a subject-verb agreement issue at all. all of them / each is acting as a modifier. So, when the sentence says each, it implies each (of them). Hence, this is a valid construct.

If you logically think about it, each as a modifier will always follow a plural noun. A similar example from OG:

Chinese, the most ancient of living writing systems, consists of tens of thousands of ideographic characters, each character a miniature calligraphic composition inside its own square frame.
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New post 01 Mar 2018, 09:04
I see. Thank you for the explanation. It makes sense now.
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Re: "A Number of" Singular vs Plural   [#permalink] 01 Mar 2018, 09:04
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