Tolkien Gateway

Letter 218

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 218
RecipientEric Rogers
Date9 October 1959
Subject(s)English language

Letter 218 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.

[edit] Summary

A Mr. Eric Rogers had sent a letter to "any Professor of English Language". He inquired about the use of the verb in a passive sentence: Is it "A number of office walls has been damaged", or "have been damaged"?

Tolkien, now retired, stated Mr. Rogers could do as he liked; both are correct. Since "number" is singular, the verb could be singular. But since "walls" is plural, the verb could be plural.