This question already has an answer here:

The question about the correct use of there is vs there are pops up quite often.

However I couldn't find any reference to a case similar to the one below. My wife is writing a crochet pattern with the following sentence:

Count the stitches all around - make sure there is an odd number of stitches.

Word's grammar correction tool suggests: make sure there are an odd number of stitches.

I myself find the "there are" version more pleasing to the ear. However I think my wife is correct in stating that the subject should be considered to be odd number of stitches and not just stitches.

Which is correct?

marked as duplicate by Edwin Ashworth, Community Jul 14 '16 at 21:01

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • Thanks, this is what I was looking for. Should it be marked as duplicate though. You are right that both in a way refer to the same question but it may be misleading to readers. I am new on this list so I will mark it as duplicate if you suggest so. – Sebastian Cabot Jul 14 '16 at 20:53
  • It's essentially to do with whether 'a number of' takes a singular or plural verb-form, not 'there is / are'; this has been answered before. Other members will hopefully close-vote accordingly. Don't worry about missing the odd duplicate; there are a lot of questions on ELU. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 14 '16 at 20:59

The noun "number" by itself is singular, e.g., The number on his jersey is 88. However, the phrase "a number of" calls for a plural verb, e.g., A number of protesters were arrested.


  • 1
    Thank you. This is what I was missing. I will mark the question as answered – Sebastian Cabot Jul 14 '16 at 20:53

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