I am composing this phrase for a real forum discussion in person:

There are a large number of proverbs/idioms in English (and doubtless additional ones in American). Some are entirely regional and if you don't live in that region you are unlikely to hear them. It is not easy either sometimes when you associate the situation that includes a cultural background [when you translate/interpret the Indo cultural things for Westerner you will find it]. Thank you.

Question: Any recommended advise whether I should use: "There is a large number" OR "There are a large number"?

  • This is not a forum, we do not do discussions here, and there is no such language as American.
    – tchrist
    Jul 31, 2013 at 2:12
  • @tchrist You should notice, I make it for my own forum in real. Please focus on my question: What is the difference between "There is a large number" and "There are a large number" Jul 31, 2013 at 2:22
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    @ des: I think at your level you will get a better response for any future questions if you ask them on English Language Learners Jul 31, 2013 at 2:48

2 Answers 2


"A large number of proverbs" indicates a plural phrase because "proverbs" is the subject, and "a large number of" is of an adjective,which modifies its subject. Therefore, I'd say "There are a large number of something."

There is also a similar look phrase "the number of X". In contrast to "a number of", "the number of" is the subject of the phrase, and all the time it represents to a number, like 8 or 11. "The number of" phrase always pairs with a verb in singular, e.g. the number of vehicles in the place A is as twice many as it in the place B.


'Number' is singular. Correct usage is 'There is a large number', though many native speakers make the mistake of using 'are'.

  • That's why I ask, thanks. As you state: many native speakers make the mistake of using 'are' - Could you give me some certain reasons? perhaps reasons that supported by research? Jul 31, 2013 at 4:45
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    I think the reason so many native speakers get it confused is that 'number' refers most often to many objects, so people automatically use 'are' plural. Very common mistake amongst native speakers, I'm not sure if it's the same in other languages, but it's like to occur in them as well! TrevorD, that doesn't answer his question - he was wondering why so many people get it confused, not the reason why 'number' is singular.
    – Pete855217
    Aug 1, 2013 at 11:58
  • Yes @Pete855217, learning by example will make it clearer for me particularly if it is supported by link. In my own native language, we do not have 'to be', so there is no such problem. This question might only come from non native speaker like me? Aug 1, 2013 at 13:08

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