# Is "Number" Singular or Plural?

by Craig Shrives

## "The Number Of" Is Singular

The phrase "the number" is singular. For example:
• The number of visitors is increasing. • The number has dropped dramatically. • The number of votes was twenty-two. The word "number" is singular when it refers to an arithmetical value. When used in this way, it is preceded by "the."

## "A Number Of" Is Plural

The phrase "a number" is plural. For example:
• A number of visitors are leaving. • A number have disappeared. • A number of votes were lost. The word "number" is plural when means "some." When used in this way, it is preceded by "a." ## "A Number" Can be Singular

Be aware that the term "a number" can be singular when it refers to a number symbol (i.e., not a letter). For example:
• A number is visible beneath the varnish. ## The Difference between "Amount" and "Number"

Use "amount" with a single item. Use "number" with multiple items.
• A large amount of people • (This is wrong because "people" is plural.)
• A large amount of flour • (This is correct because "flour" is singular.)
• A large number of people Here is a real-life example showing the difference between "amount" and "number":
• At that stage, a huge amount of sugar and a vast number of chocolate buttons are poured in and stirred. There is a short wait and then a seemingly infinite number of chocolates whizz along the belt. 