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This hurts my eyes to read it and my ears to say it, but the writer stands by item #43

About the same number of people was awarded bachelor's degrees in 2010 as filed for personal bankruptcy (1.6 million).

Is the subject in this sentence singular or plural?

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I read those questions too and believe this one is subtly different: "The same number of students...as..." verses "The number of students" –  monty Apr 6 '12 at 23:29
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2 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The heading for paragraph 7 of Harbrace College Handbook, Chapter 6a states,

When regarded as a unit, collective nouns, as well as noun phrases denoting quantity, take singular verbs.
. . .
The number is singular; a number is plural.
"The number of students was small." [The number is taken as a unit.]
"A number of students were taking tests." [A number refers to individuals.]

Their examples indicate that it's different depending on if the number is taken as a unit or refers to individuals. In your case I think it's individuals and should use the plural.

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In the sentence

About the same number of people was awarded bachelor's degrees in 2010 as filed for personal bankruptcy (1.6 million).

the verb should be were. Who was awarded the bachelor's degree? Not the number but the people.

If the sentence were:

About the same number of people is expected to show up for this party as did for the previous one.

then the verb is could be used, because the same number is what is being expected. (Although are could be used as well, because the people are also being expected.)

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