When is it better to put "A number of"? For example, I know that it's appropriate to say "The number of students decreased" not "Students decreased". How about when you use the word 'decline'? Is it the same? I'm specifically asking about these two sentences:

  1. Cases declined dramatically.
  2. The number of cases declined dramatically.

Which is more appropriate? Thank you.

  • @TimLymington Fair enough – Hank Feb 27 '17 at 18:59
  • 1
    Note that "cases declined dramatically" could be taken to mean that the agency which was supposed to handle the cases declared they would not, and were quite theatrical in doing so. – Hot Licks Feb 27 '17 at 20:39

Each sentence says something different.

  1. "Cases declined dramatically."

    • This sentence is implying the cases themselves have declined. This could mean that they took a turn for the worse or the quality of the cases declined. It could technically be used (confusingly) to specify the number of cases, though.

  1. "The number of cases declined dramatically."

    • This sentence, on the other hand, does specifically refer to the number of cases declining.

The appropriate sentence will depend on what you are actually trying to convey.

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