Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: variety.

variety. When the phrase “a variety of” means “many,” it takes a plural verb — e.g.: o “Words, songs and rituals are a few of the many things that color our experience, and a variety of them are found in religious services.” William C. Graham, “Saving Signs, Wondrous Words,” Nat’l Catholic Rptr., 9 May 1997, at 15. o “There are a variety of ’90s-type bills padding the typical household budget.” “No Fed Action Expected,” Tampa Trib., 25 Sept. 1997, at 7. In fact, it’s erroneous in that context to use a singular verb — e.g.: “There is [read ‘are’] a variety of dwelling types, including houses, row houses and apartments, so that younger and older people, singles and families, poor and the wealthy, may live there.” Steve Liewer, “Developers’ Nostalgia Reaches Homebuyers,” Sun-Sentinel (Ft. Lauderdale), 7 Sept. 1997, at B1. When followed by a singular or collective noun, a variety of takes a singular verb — e.g.: “For the tests, a variety of equipment is attached to the helicopter’s hard points and dropped in flight, including 2.75-inch rocket packs, auxiliary fuel tanks and dummy Hellfire and Sidewinder missiles.” Jefferson Morris, “Upgraded Super Cobra Undergoing Stores Jettison Testing at Pax River,” Aerospace Daily, 29 Jan. 2003, at 6. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “Be complete, but be concise. Get rid of everything you don’t need: words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, even entire pages. Ask yourself what can be tossed without losing essential facts or robbing the piece of movement and grace. Put the copy away for a while, and then read it again. You’d be amazed how your attitude changes.” Walter Lubars & Albert J. Sullivan, Guidelines for Effective Writing: Qualities and Formats 62 (1978).
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