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# Is idiom the numbers of always wrong?

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Is idiom the numbers of always wrong?  [#permalink]

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22 May 2013, 09:20
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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22 May 2013, 11:37
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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Mike McGarry
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Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. — William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)

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23 May 2013, 07:01
Hi mikemcgarry,

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]

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23 May 2013, 12:07
2
swati007 wrote:
Hi mikemcgarry,

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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Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. — William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)

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27 May 2013, 02:07
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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28 May 2013, 14:22
1
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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Mike McGarry
Magoosh Test Prep

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. — William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)

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Re: Is idiom the numbers of always wrong?  [#permalink]

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26 Aug 2017, 06:18
Hello mikemcgarry

I am a little confused about the usage of 'was raised by'. Does it mean that the number was raised by more than some percent? Does this make sense?

Thanks
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Re: Is idiom the numbers of always wrong?  [#permalink]

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26 Aug 2017, 14:01
Shiv2016 wrote:
Hello mikemcgarry

I am a little confused about the usage of 'was raised by'. Does it mean that the number was raised by more than some percent? Does this make sense?

Thanks

Dear Shiv2016,

I'm happy to respond.

The use of "was raised by" here is grossly unidiomatic. It doesn't work at all, and it was inserted purely to confused non-native speakers.

If we are talking about the "number of" X, then it would be most naturally to say that it "grew" or "increase" or even "swelled," some active verb. The OA, (D), has "increased."

The passive construction "was raised by" is used in English almost exclusively to refer to child-rearing.
Abe Lincoln was raised in a log cabin.
According to legend, Romulus & Remus were raised by wolves.

Does all this make sense?
Mike
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Magoosh Test Prep

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. — William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)

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Re: Is idiom the numbers of always wrong?  [#permalink]

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27 Aug 2017, 03:40
mikemcgarry wrote:
Shiv2016 wrote:
Hello mikemcgarry

I am a little confused about the usage of 'was raised by'. Does it mean that the number was raised by more than some percent? Does this make sense?

Thanks

Dear Shiv2016,

I'm happy to respond.

The use of "was raised by" here is grossly unidiomatic. It doesn't work at all, and it was inserted purely to confused non-native speakers.

If we are talking about the "number of" X, then it would be most naturally to say that it "grew" or "increase" or even "swelled," some active verb. The OA, (D), has "increased."

The passive construction "was raised by" is used in English almost exclusively to refer to child-rearing.
Abe Lincoln was raised in a log cabin.
According to legend, Romulus & Remus were raised by wolves.

Does all this make sense?
Mike

Dear mikemcgarry

I hope you are well and in safe place away from those horrible hurricanes.

I have 2 questions about the sentence at hand as follows:

1- In choice 'D', If 'increased' is replaced by 'grew', is there any subtle difference?

2- regardless of using 'the numbers of', I do not understand why is Choice B wrong? What is the difference between 'increased/grew' and 'increased/grew by'?

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Posts: 4667
Re: Is idiom the numbers of always wrong?  [#permalink]

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29 Aug 2017, 12:06
1
Mo2men wrote:
Dear mikemcgarry

I hope you are well and in safe place away from those horrible hurricanes.

I have 2 questions about the sentence at hand as follows:

1- In choice 'D', If 'increased' is replaced by 'grew', is there any subtle difference?

2- regardless of using 'the numbers of', I do not understand why is Choice B wrong? What is the difference between 'increased/grew' and 'increased/grew by'?

Dear Mo2men,

Good to hear from you, my friend. Yes, I am sunny northern California, over 1000 miles away from Hurricane Harvey. I feel very bad for those folks, but it is nowhere close to me or my family. Thank you for your concern. I'm happy to respond.

1) In choice (D), replacing "increased" with "grew" would produce the exact same meaning. If there's any difference at all, it's that "grew" sounds a shade less formal, a shade less sophisticated, than does "increased." The GMAT would never test such a minute subtle difference and expect you to know this, but notice that the OA winds up being on the slightly more sophisticated side--that's a frequently GMAT SC feature.

In case you're interested, I'll share: the English language has two major sources. The first is Latin, through the early French language, and most Greek came into the language by that route. The second is the Anglo-Saxon side, through which it is related to German. The "Latin" side of English tends to be the long multisyllabic words--the -tion words, the -ity words, the -fic words, etc. The "German" side of English tends to be short monosyllable words packed with meaning--the forms of the verbs be, have, come, go, etc.; the -ough words, etc. As a very rough general rule, the "Latin" side of English is considered more high brow than the "German" side of English. The word "grew" is from the German side, and the word "increase" is from the Latin side, so the latter automatically sounds slightly more sophisticated. All of this is way way more than you would ever need to know for the GMAT, but it may help you some day in your own writing.

2) The structures "increased by more than 35%" or "grew by more than 35%" are also 100% fine. It's redundant, though, to say, "grew by a 35% increase."

Does all this make sense?
Mike
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Magoosh Test Prep

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. — William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)

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Re: Is idiom the numbers of always wrong?  [#permalink]

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29 Aug 2017, 14:02
mikemcgarry wrote:
Dear Mo2men,

Good to hear from you, my friend. Yes, I am sunny northern California, over 1000 miles away from Hurricane Harvey. I feel very bad for those folks, but it is nowhere close to me or my family. Thank you for your concern. I'm happy to respond.

1) In choice (D), replacing "increased" with "grew" would produce the exact same meaning. If there's any difference at all, it's that "grew" sounds a shade less formal, a shade less sophisticated, than does "increased." The GMAT would never test such a minute subtle difference and expect you to know this, but notice that the OA winds up being on the slightly more sophisticated side--that's a frequently GMAT SC feature.

In case you're interested, I'll share: the English language has two major sources. The first is Latin, through the early French language, and most Greek came into the language by that route. The second is the Anglo-Saxon side, through which it is related to German. The "Latin" side of English tends to be the long multisyllabic words--the -tion words, the -ity words, the -fic words, etc. The "German" side of English tends to be short monosyllable words packed with meaning--the forms of the verbs be, have, come, go, etc.; the -ough words, etc. As a very rough general rule, the "Latin" side of English is considered more high brow than the "German" side of English. The word "grew" is from the German side, and the word "increase" is from the Latin side, so the latter automatically sounds slightly more sophisticated. All of this is way way more than you would ever need to know for the GMAT, but it may help you some day in your own writing.

2) The structures "increased by more than 35%" or "grew by more than 35%" are also 100% fine. It's redundant, though, to say, "grew by a 35% increase."

Does all this make sense?
Mike

Dear mikemcgarry

I'm happy to hear that you and your family are safe.

Thanks a lot for the information that you add to me about language. I actually love those info aside from GMAT.

However, I discovered that I did not clearly form question 2 and It did not touch what I want to ask. So I will rephrase it accurately.

In the OA (Choice D), what will happen if we drop word 'by'? I mean that the OA becomes:

(D) number of women employed outside the home increased by more than thirty-five percent

What is the difference in meaning?

I hope it clear now. Thanks in advance for your keen help.
Magoosh GMAT Instructor
Joined: 28 Dec 2011
Posts: 4667
Re: Is idiom the numbers of always wrong?  [#permalink]

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30 Aug 2017, 15:04
1
Mo2men wrote:
Dear mikemcgarry

I'm happy to hear that you and your family are safe.

Thanks a lot for the information that you add to me about language. I actually love those info aside from GMAT.

However, I discovered that I did not clearly form question 2 and It did not touch what I want to ask. So I will rephrase it accurately.

In the OA (Choice D), what will happen if we drop word 'by'? I mean that the OA becomes:

(D) number of women employed outside the home increased by more than thirty-five percent

What is the difference in meaning?

I hope it clear now. Thanks in advance for your keen help.

Dear Mo2men,

My friend, I'm happy to respond.

Here are the sentences:
(D) number of women employed outside the home increased by more than thirty-five percent
(D') number of women employed outside the home increased more than thirty-five percent

As crazy as it may seem, these two have the same meaning. Perhaps the first is a slightly more formal way to state the information, but both are 100% correct, and there is no discernible meaning between the two.

Does all this make sense?
Mike
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Magoosh Test Prep

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. — William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)

Re: Is idiom the numbers of always wrong? &nbs [#permalink] 30 Aug 2017, 15:04
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