'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...')?



2 Answers 2


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.


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.

  • 1
    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."
    – herisson
    Aug 28, 2016 at 6:26
  • 1
    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, 2016 at 13:29

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