I'm writing an article and I have used this sentence.

[…] although there are a significant number of computers […].

After I checked it with an online spellchecker, it said that I should use is.

Should I change the phrase as suggested?

1 Answer 1


I'm not sure what your grammar checker is on about. No matter how you break down the sentence, the verb must be plural.

If you figure that "computers" is the noun and "a significant number of" is a modifying phrase, then it is dead obvious that the verb should be "are".

If you figure that "a ... number" is the noun and both "significant" and "of computers" are modifying phrases, then you as a learner could be excused for thinking that the verb should be singular; but anyone with some grammatical knowledge, and certainly a grammar-checking algorithm, should know that "a number" is a plural noun phrase. Perhaps the algorithm wasn't very well-written and got confused by that intervening "significant"?

Anyway, bottom line is, you had it correct in the first place; please ignore the grammar checker.

  • Thanks! I think the algorithms acts like this : "a significant" phrase is started with "a", so it is a singular noun. BUT before it there is a verb "are" !!! PARADOX . Yeah, the algorithm is weak , BUT as I'm beginner , these things can throw doubts. These algorithms have solved lots of SpellChecking and GrammarChecking of my article before, They are not that bad. Sorry for off-topic discussion. Thank you ! Commented Sep 15, 2013 at 22:42
  • 2
    Amusingly, there's has become neutral with respect to grammatical number in modern informal English, so there's agrees with the plural a number. (Though it wouldn't be acceptable in a formal article, of course!)
    – user230
    Commented Sep 15, 2013 at 22:48

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