A number represents an amount that can be counted. The word "number" can be used as a noun or as a verb.
- The crowd numbered in the thousands.
- The teacher told the students to number their sentences.
- Players on a football field are numbered so that fans can pick them out more easily. (pick them out = identify them)
- I can number several good reasons for eating a healthy breakfast in the morning.
The word "number" is often used in front of a number when speaking about it directly.
- The number four is evenly divisible by two.
- The number three is not evenly divisible by two.
- Five is Joe’s lucky number.
- The number seven is regarded as lucky.
- The number 13 is regarded as being unlucky.
- Tom Brady wears number 12 on his jersey.
The word "number" is often used in the form of a plural when talking about amounts of things that are significant.
- The doctor told me to pay attention to the numbers on my health chart.
- Our numbers are increasing at the school. (We’re gaining students.)
- Quarterly numbers indicate that the company made a good profit.
- The numbers we’re using show that profitability is possible within two years.
- The numbers in this budget proposal just don’t add up.
Notice that there is a difference between "a number" and "the number."
- A number of people are interested in this subject. ("A number" is a plural subject in this sentence. We don’t know what the number is, but we know it’s greater than one.)
- The number of people interested in this subect is increasing. ("The number" is a singular subject in this sentence. Here we are thinking of one number.)
- The police arrested a number of people who were protesting in the street.
- The number of people arrested was reported in the newspaper.
- A number of people called to complain about the noise coming from the building. The city received about 30 calls.
- This writing assignment has a number of mistakes on it. (This sounds like a lot of mistakes!)
He claims to be the team’s number one fan.
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This page was published on April 19, 2017.