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I am just a beginner in English and want to know why is "were" used in the first sentence:

The least proportion of men were detained.

The number of men in the party was high.

Number (in sentence 1) and proportion (in sentence 2) both are singular. So why are we using "were" in the first sentence but was is used in the second?

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The least proportion of men refers to people which is plural so the verb were was used

The number of men refers to the number which is considered singular and the verb was was used because the number increases or decreases.

Similarly, a number of people is plural and the number of people is singular

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    @ColleenV - Because this question was asked a mere hour ago, I would go one step further, and encourage the OP to unaccept this answer for the time being. Such an action could result in better or more comprehensive answers being added. – J.R. Oct 15 at 17:41
  • @Sudhir Sharma. please down vote my answer and unaccept it .You may get a better answer than mine – successive suspension Oct 15 at 17:44
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    @Englishmonger - There is no need to request a downvote either. Let's learn a lesson but not be overly contrite. :-) – J.R. Oct 15 at 17:51
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