in the sentence "Fourteen of the bones make up the face and jaw." is "Fourteen" singular or plural?

The preceding sentence is "The skulls of every human being have 22 bones."

The grammar book I'm using suggests that the sentence should read, "Fourteen of the bones serves as the face and jaw." suggesting that "Fourteen" is plural, and that it requires a singular verb!!

Seems extremely awkward to me!!

  • 3
    It's plural, and requires a plural verb agreement. – Robusto Jul 1 '15 at 2:35
  • 1
    Fourteen dollars or fourteen kilograms are singular, but bones as long as it is talking about anatomy and not the figurative meaning of money will use plural. – Revlis Lain Jul 1 '15 at 5:11
  • On the other hand, "The skulls of every human being have 22 bones." is incorrect. Every human being has just one skull, (well, perhaps there are a few exceptions, we can't really know what "every human" has). "The human skull has 22 bones" seems much better to me, since it is more general, simpler and concise. – Margana Jul 1 '15 at 7:53
  • Robusto: You have answered this question, why not make it a formal answer? – Hack Saw Jul 15 '15 at 17:53

If I may offer my 2p worth, this whole sentence seems extremely convoluted. Firstly, the first sentence in your text

The skulls of every human being have 22 bones

is incorrect. It implies that if you total up all the bones in all the skulls of every human being, you will have 22 bones. It should read

The skull of every human being has 22 bones

Secondly, the word serve and make do not become plural just because they end with an 's'. Consider the phrase

He serves as a waiter

He is singular, so the correct word is serves, implying plural. If there were more than one waiter, it would be

They serve as waiters

In this case, serve indicates plural. So,, your grammar book seems to me to be incorrect; the fourteen bones are plural, but the phrase should be

Fourteen of the bones serve as the face and jaw.

To my mind, however, a better way to write both sentences would be the following;

The skull of every human being has 22 bones. Fourteen of these serve as the face and jaw.

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