What Is Number? (with Examples)

Number is a grammatical category which relates to nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and verbs. In English, the two number categories are singular and plural.

Examples of Grammatical Number

Below are examples of nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and verbs in the two number categories:
Word TypeNumber Category
Singular ExamplePlural Example
Nouncat, mousecats, mice
Pronoun I, me, you, he, him, she, her, it we, us, you, they, them
Adjective this, that, a, an, my, your, his, her, its these, those, our, your, their
Verb am, is, was, has, I play, he plays Are, were, have, they play

Some Constructions Must Agree in Number

When discussing grammar, you will hear terms like "the words must agree in number."

Here are some sentences that are wrong because they contain elements which do not agree in number:
  • A range of factors are to be considered.
  • (This is wrong because range is singular, but are is plural. The subject and the verb do not agree in number.)
  • A range of factors is to be considered.
  • (Note: The word factors is not the subject. It's part of a prepositional phrase that modifies range.)

  • These kind of things are impossible to solve.
  • (This is wrong because These is plural, but kind is singular. The demonstrative adjective and its noun do not agree in number.)

  • These kinds of things are impossible to solve.
  • Please ask your guest to remove their coat outside.
  • (This is wrong because guest is singular, but their is plural.)

  • Please ask your guest to remove his coat outside.
  • (English doesn't handle this situation very well. If we do not know the gender of the guest, we're stuck with the rather clumsy his/her option, rewording, or hoping that his (to mean his/her) doesn't offend. But, at least, the number is correct.)

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