A number vs the number

P5 Common Grammar Mistakes Series: ‘A number’ vs ‘The number’

Do you wonder why we sometimes use a singular verb for ‘number’ and sometimes a plural verb?

If you do wonder, this is the grammatical rule for ‘a number’ and ‘the number’.

Grammar rule

The expression the number is followed by a singular verb while the expression a number is followed by a plural verb.


The number of people we need is 10. (The number = singular verb)

A number of people have written in about this subject. (A number = plural verb)

The number of people lined up for tickets was four hundred. (The number = singular verb)

A number of suggestions were made. (A number = plural verb)

If you would like to learn about more grammatical rules, come join us for our weekly P3 – P5 classes via zoom or at the centre!

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