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#16 GG Mora

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Posted 06 February 2005 - 12:38 AM

Isn't it surreal that this topic was started by an American? :(

You don't know that, do you? :(

#17 Orik

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Posted 06 February 2005 - 12:53 AM

I've found that language cops generally mock everyone who can't use language at the level they can manage, while dismissing anyone who corrects them as being unnecessarily pedantic.

awesome analysis

but not as awsome as the prefix cheese plate at Artisinal. That's definately the most awsomest.

You don't know that, do you? 


I was being facetious.
sandwiches that are large and filling and do not contain tuna or prawns

#18 Robert Schonfeld

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Posted 06 February 2005 - 01:24 AM

Which is correct and why:

"There are a number of people outside waiting to get in."

"There is a number of people waiting to get in"

and

"There are a large number of people who signed up."

"There is a large number of people who signed up."
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#19 LML

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Posted 06 February 2005 - 11:50 AM

What do you mean by 'correct'?

The quantifying phrase "a (large) number of", despite taking the singular indefinite article 'a', is plural. It's much the same as 'a flock', 'a group' etc., which although singular countable nouns, imply plurality, so I suppose the appropriate option would be 'there are' in both cases.

However, this concept of 'correct' is entirely prescriptive. It's only 'correct' because someone decided it was, not for any intrinsic reason of language. Thankfully, modern linguists are now less concerned with telling people how to say things than with studying how people say things and I imagine in your example there would be a fairly even split.

Language is replete with ambiguity and perhaps the question one should ask is not whether what one's saying is 'correct' or not, but whether it is communicatively effective, which is a far harder skill to achieve yet one that is infinitely more useful.
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Food or frock?

#20 Stone

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Posted 06 February 2005 - 01:37 PM

I was and am a lousy speller with questionable grammar skills. I found the book "Woe is I" to be very helpful.

A few things get my goat: The overuse of "myself" when people mean "me." When people caption a photo of themselves and a friend as "My friend and I."

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#21 GG Mora

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Posted 06 February 2005 - 02:33 PM

I was and am a lousy speller with questionable grammar skills. I found the book "Woe is I" to be very helpful.

A few things get my goat: The overuse of "myself" when people mean "me." When people caption a photo of themselves and a friend as "My friend and I."

Mm, yes. Methinks that many people believe the use of “I” is always more correcter and makes them sound smarter, or at least more sophisticated. See also the use of he or she when him or her is called for.

“Oh, yes, I had a delightful lunch with she and her mother yesterday.” :(

#22 omnivorette

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Posted 06 February 2005 - 02:37 PM

We say “ there are a large number of people”. We assume the are refers to the people. It’s just usage; we cannot say why. For instance the word army is singular in the US and plural in Britain. Just usage.
"It seems a positively Quixotic quest to defend food from being used as any kind of social signifier, as if it could avoid the fate of each other component of our everyday lives." -Wilfrid

#23 ranitidine

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Posted 06 February 2005 - 02:47 PM

Do speakers of other languages have such discussions?
"Say not the struggle nought availeth...."
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#24 GG Mora

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Posted 06 February 2005 - 02:48 PM

Do speakers of other languages have such discussions?

Just a hunch, but I'd be willing to bet that the French do.

#25 ranitidine

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Posted 06 February 2005 - 02:57 PM

Do speakers of other languages have such discussions?

Just a hunch, but I'd be willing to bet that the French do.

The items I usually read about French concern the Academy's alarm at Americanisms creeping into the language. But do they have problems with proper use of French words because of similarities in spelling of different words and confusion of the singular and plural?
"Say not the struggle nought availeth...."
Arthur Hugh Clough, 1819-1861

Arise ye prisoners of starvation
Arise ye wretched of the earth

#26 omnivorette

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Posted 06 February 2005 - 03:04 PM

I have these discussions, sometimes, in Hebrew, Yiddish, and German.
"It seems a positively Quixotic quest to defend food from being used as any kind of social signifier, as if it could avoid the fate of each other component of our everyday lives." -Wilfrid

#27 Rail Paul

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Posted 06 February 2005 - 03:29 PM

Which is correct and why:

"There are a number of people outside waiting to get in."

"There is a number of people waiting to get in"

and

"There are a large number of people who signed up."

"There is a large number of people who signed up."

In traditional American grammar, the word number is singular, even if it refers to a multitude of objects. So, I'd use "is" in both examples. I've noticed the newscasters, as arbiters of speech, have moved to the "are" form of late
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#28 omnivorette

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Posted 06 February 2005 - 03:32 PM

Which is correct and why:

"There are a number of people outside waiting to get in."

"There is a number of people waiting to get in"

and

"There are a large number of people who signed up."

"There is a large number of people who signed up."

In traditional American grammar, the word number is singular, even if it refers to a multitude of objects. So, I'd use "is" in both examples. I've noticed the newscasters, as arbiters of speech, have moved to the "are" form of late

So you might, but your usage would now be considered incorrect.
"It seems a positively Quixotic quest to defend food from being used as any kind of social signifier, as if it could avoid the fate of each other component of our everyday lives." -Wilfrid

#29 Jaymes

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Posted 06 February 2005 - 03:41 PM

Which is correct and why:

"There are a number of people outside waiting to get in."

"There is a number of people waiting to get in"

and

"There are a large number of people who signed up."

"There is a large number of people who signed up."

In traditional American grammar, the word number is singular, even if it refers to a multitude of objects. So, I'd use "is" in both examples. I've noticed the newscasters, as arbiters of speech, have moved to the "are" form of late

So you might, but your usage would now be considered incorrect.

'Couple' -- another one. It always used to be 'the couple is honeymooning in the Bahamas,' but now it's 'couple are.'

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#30 Nancy S.

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Posted 06 February 2005 - 03:43 PM

My husband bought us Eats, Shoots & Leaves and I bought us The Dictionary of Disagreeable English. Often, abuse punctuation and words. These books help, a bit.