I am trying to improve on my linguistic skills in English and struggling a lot. Yesterday, I wrote an essay, but I am confused about a sentence: "Building of houses means less number of open areas with trees."

I am wondering if it should be means or mean. Does the verb(mean) refer to building or houses?

  • means is fine there. – Man_From_India Feb 26 '17 at 5:46
  • 1
    "fewer numbers" - not "less number". en.oxforddictionaries.com/usage/less-or-fewer – Catija Feb 26 '17 at 5:49
  • There is an implied "the": "The building of houses means..." It refers to the general action of building houses rather than multiple instances of building individual houses. – fixer1234 Feb 26 '17 at 21:26

Here's the correct sentence:

Building houses means fewer numbers of open areas with trees.

Subject: Building houses
Verb: means

  • @Catija: Thanks for the pointer! I didn't notice it as I just focused on the agreement between the subject and the verb. – Mori Feb 26 '17 at 5:53

You don't need "number" at all and, while it may not be strictly wrong, it's awkward. And I'd change other parts of the sentence too. I would say:

If more houses are built there will be fewer open areas with trees.


Building more houses means fewer open areas with trees.

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