Q: Is "a series" singular or plural?

Detailed Question -

I just want to know whether to use a singular or plural verb with "a series," for example: a series of experiments was done /were done.  Which one is right? I just think that it should be singular even though I found both instances of both singular and plural usage in literature. So, I need to know which the correct way is.  

1 Answer to this question

The Oxford English dictionary defines ‘series’ as a “number of related things coming one after another.” Series can be used both as a singular or a plural word, depending on the context in which the word is used.

It can be written as a singular word when it has a singular sense of “one set” and thus a singular verb will be used with it. For example: A series of lectures is scheduled for the coming week.

However, it can also be written as a plural word when it has a plural sense of “two or more sets” and accordingly, a plural verb will be used. For example: Two series of lectures are scheduled, one for this week and the other for the next week.

However, when series has the article "a" before it, it is evidently being used in a singular sense. Therefore, to answer your question, the correct way to write is “a series of experiments was conducted” as the sentence refers to one set of experiments.  

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