Learn English – Is “an assortment” singular

grammatical-number

Is "an assortment of [something plural]" singular or plural?

Removing the [something plural] makes the answer easier:

An assortment was here.

makes more sense than

An assortment were here.

Put in the [something plural], eg. "people", now I'm not sure which way sounds the most correct:

An assortment of people was here.

or

An assortment of people were here.

Best Answer

US English is is more cut-and-dried on this topic. "An assortment of people was . . ." is correct. "An assortment of people were . . ." is not correct and this very construction is commonly used by test writers to test agreement in number for the very reason that it does sound correct. I tried a couple of grammar check systems and they agree with my analysis. Since the writing samples used for college admission in the US are moving toward a human-less scoring scheme, I expect grammatical standards will become even more concrete. The questioner is from Minnesota and if he starts going around saying stuff like, "The Committee are unable to reach a consensus," he might get deported to a land where HRH Prince William posts, "It.s a Boy. Beautiful Boy." on FB.