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Subject:Help with sentence From:Mike Ingram <MIngram -at- SCIENTECH -dot- COM> Date:Wed, 30 Oct 1996 12:17:42 -0700
Sue Heim wrote:
I swear my brain has decided to turn off today. Which of the
following is correct:
...more may be required if a high number of records *is* retrieved
...more may be required if a high number of records *are* retrieved
While I realize there are many "authorities", Theodore Bernstein addresses
exactly this in The Careful Writer. He says, "If the idea of oneness
predominates, treat the noun as a singular. ('The number of accidents is
larger this year'--because _number_ is thought of as _total_.) If the idea
of more-than-oneness predominates, treat the noun as a plural. ('A great
number of accidents are preventable'--because _number_ is equivalent to
_many_.) With _number_ or _total_, incidentally, a simple rule is possible:
preceded by _the_, it is singular; preceded by _a_, it is plural."
Perhaps other "authorities" would give different guidance, but here's one to
Mike Ingram, Senior Writer/Editor
1585 N. Skyline Drive
Idaho Falls, ID 83402
mingram -at- if -dot- scientech -dot- com
(208) 528-3739 (phone)
(208) 523-9380 (fax)