Possible Duplicate:
A number of questions “has been” or “have been” asked?

There is a large number of labourers who want to migrate to Japan for work.

I type this sentence in a word processor, and it reports an error that "is" should be "are" (subject-verb agreement).

I doubt this is a valid error. Could anyone confirm this?

  • 2
    I agree. It's a possible duplicate. I'm sorry I didn't find that one.
    – Elfaron
    Dec 15 '11 at 7:27

This site has a good explanation about some of the subtleties of using collective nouns. In particular:

Note that "the number" is a singular collective noun. "The number of applicants is steadily increasing." "A number," on the other hand, is a plural form: "There are several students in the lobby. A number are here to see the president."

It's a peculiarity of "number" as a grouping noun. If you had said "group" instead, then the singular would have been correct:

There is a large group of labourers who want to migrate to Japan for work.


It should be "are". The phrase "a large number of labourers", like "a lot of labourers" and "a dozen labourers", is a plural construction in English and takes the verb "are".


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