The use of plurals and singulars in English can sometimes be a bit complicated. One situation where English differs significantly is the phrase “a lot of”. “A lot of” is singular (as we can clearly see from the use of “a”), and so many people will think that, like in English, the verb that follows will also be singular.
But this is a mistake! In English, we would say, for example, “there are many trees” or “there are many students”, not “there are many trees”; in English, however, we would say:
- A lot of new trees have been planted in our town. (correct)
- A lot of new trees has been planted in our town. (wrong)
- There are a lot of students in the lecture hall. (correct)
- There is a lot of students in the lecture hall. (wrong)
One way to look at phrases like this is that the subject in English doesn’t have to be in the first case. In the above sentence, we should ask: “What was planted in our city?” Since the answer is “trees”, and they are plural, the verb must be plural (i.e. “trees have”, not “trees has”).
“A lot of” can also be used for uncountable (substantive) nouns:
- A lot of water is being wasted every day. (correct)
- A lot of water are being wasted every day. (wrong)
Just as we would say “a lot of water is” in English, we would say “a lot of water is” in English. However, the reason is different: in English we understand “water” (which is singular) as a subject, in English “a lot” or the unstated “it” (which is also singular).