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'There are an ocean of flowers.' I saw this sentence in the Internet. Is it grammatically correct? I was wondering whether 'an ocean of flowers' should be treated as singular or plural.

If it is singular, then the verb should be 'is' - There is an ocean of flowers.

Apparently, the writer consider 'an ocean of flowers' a plural subject, as the verb 'are' was used. But should it be plural when the phrase starts with 'an' ('AN ocean of...')?

Thanks!

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It's an interesting construction to be sure. If it had been a lot of, you would not be bothered by a plural verb.

  • A lot of flowers are in bloom right now.
  • There are a lot of flowers in bloom right now.

The author seem to be construing an ocean of to be a quantifier that works the same way as a lot of works. That is, it does not change the number any more than words like some or many do.

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The prescriptivist in me says you are correct and the original writer is not. "An ocean of flowers" feels much more like a visual image. Without knowing the context, I imagine something like this: enter image description here

"A lot/bunch/ton of flowers" doesn't give me the same mental image.

Also, "ocean" is a countable noun. The Earth has 4 oceans: the Arctic, the Atlantic, the Indian, and the Pacific. "There are an ocean" is just offensive to my aural sensibilities.

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    I had the same feeling as you upon hearing this sentence. But, prescription should not be based solely on personal intuitions--that's how we get senseless peeves that don't even reflect the way educated people speak in general; they just reflect the way one person speaks. I don't think it's relevant that "ocean" is a countable noun normally. "Lot" is also a countable noun ("there's a lot next to my house") but we say "There are a lot of flowers." – sumelic Aug 28 '16 at 6:26
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    Reading your answer, I realised that bunch is rather special: There are a bunch of flowers here means There are a lot of flowers here, whereas There is a bunch of flowers here means There is a bouquet of flowers here. – TonyK Aug 28 '16 at 13:29

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