A variety of toys is made at the company called ZYD.


A variety of toys are made at the company called ZYD.

I'm confused which one to use. Explain please.

  • It seems that plural is more common according this answer on EL&U. – John B Oct 9 '15 at 19:49
  • I wonder whether ELL leans toward being descriptive or prescriptive... – Victor Bazarov Oct 9 '15 at 20:06
  • 1
    Do you think there can be a variety of one? Logically it is plural. – user3169 Oct 9 '15 at 20:38
  • @user3169 : A variety is syntactically singular. – Victor Bazarov Oct 9 '15 at 21:02
  • I actually dessent from "used3169". Yes,it seems like it is undoubtedly plural. But i personally think grammatically it is singular .cause there is "A" before "variety" if people wanna use plural,then the sentence should be changed into like"varieties of toys are".virtually I heard such expression from a random asian american. But I just cannot make sure if he is right or wrong – 오준수 Oct 10 '15 at 0:15

You use the phrase "a variety of" to mean a number of different types of things. In this sense, as a collective noun, it's treated as a plural. As you usually use a plural verb after it, the correct sentence is:

A variety of toys are made at the company called ZYD.


This is a common confusion. One first must determine the subject of the sentence, since that is the word that determines verb agreement.

When a plural noun in a prepositional phrase follows a singular subject noun, the verb reflects the singularity of the of the subject noun. In the case presented, a variety is singular, therefore the verb form of to be should be singular (i.e., is). If the noun varieties had been used, the plural verb form are would be correct.

  • 1
    No, that isn’t true. See here. – tchrist Oct 10 '15 at 1:07
  • @tchrist Thank you for the "A battery of tests" reference. It is true that there are phrases that are considered plural for verb agreement. This is part of the bugaboo in this area of understanding, especially for ESL students So your point is well taken. – Katherine Oct 10 '15 at 1:29

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