Jul 29

IELTS Grammar: Subject/verb agreement

When we use phrases such as ‘the number of’, ‘the proportion of’, ‘the percentage of’ or ‘the quantity of’ with a plural countable nous, we use a singular verb. This is because the subject is ‘number’, ‘proportion’, ‘percentage’ or ‘quantity’. These are singular nouns and the verb has to agree with them.


  • The number of residents is higher than it used to be.

  • The percentage of people living in cities has risen.

  • Thee proportion of respondents who said that they supported the government was extremely low.

  • The quantity of people who do their shopping online has gone up sharply.

When we use phrases such as ‘a number of’, ‘a lot of’, ‘a multitude of’, ‘a/the majority of’, ‘some of’, ‘all of’ ‘plenty of’, ‘a range of’ or ‘a variety of’ with a plural countable noun, we use a plural verb. This is because the subject of the sentence is the noun which follows ‘of’. It is plural and the verb needs to agree with it.


  • A number of students have complained about the poor quality of food in the college canteen.

  • A lot of us find work quite boring.

  • A multitude of problems have been caused by the recent changes in weather patterns.

  • The majority of companies are struggling to make a profit in these difficult trading conditions.

  • Some of my colleagues are considering early retirement.

  • All of the reasons given are valid.

  • Plenty of people prefer not to go abroad for their holidays.

  • A range of explanations have been given.

  • A variety of factors lead undergraduates to drop out of their university courses.
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