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The injury and death toll among cyclists and their pillion riders increased from 376 in 2005 to 507 last year. But despite the dangers, the number of cyclists who take up cycling seriously (has or have) steadily increased.

I read this article, and I found that this sentence uses has rather than have. May I know why?

2 Answers 2

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It's has because it has to match the count of 'the number' not 'cyclists'.

The number has increased.

Number is singular*, therefore we use 'has' not have'.

We could say

The cyclists have increased in number

because then we have to match to 'cyclists' rather than number.

We could even go so far as to say

Their numbers have increased

because then we have numbers used as a plural.

*[or possibly uncountable - I'm never sure how you decide that.]

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From Collins English Usage:

A number of things or people means several things or people. You use a plural form of a verb after a number of. When you talk about the number of people or things of a particular kind, you are talking about an actual number. After the number of you use a singular form of a verb.

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