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Is It Correct to Say “A Myriad Of”?

Don’t you love uncommon words? In a time of text message speech, overly abundant abbreviations, and numerous acronyms, it’s nice to use a word that’s a little less common and a lot more effective. Is it correct to say “a myriad of?”

It is correct to use the phrase “a myriad of.” The word “myriad” is a noun that indicates a significant number of people or objects. It also functions as an adjective to describe a large number of people or objects. Interestingly, “a myriad of” functions as both, depending on the context.

Read on to learn when to use this phrase and how it works in a sentence.

What Does “A Myriad Of” Mean? 

This phrase is both a common phrase and a noun form with a preposition phrase. “A myriad of” includes the indefinite article “a,” the noun “myriad,” and the preposition “of.” The word originates from the Greek word murias, which means 10,000 (source).

The word “myriad” means a large or countless number.

Since the original meaning of “myriad” comes from its noun form, there is some objection to how many people use it. “A myriad of” comes across as an adjective since it describes the number of objects or people, but it’s a little more complicated than that.

The best way to distinguish between the noun and adjective forms is that the noun functions as a standalone word while the adjective appears before the subject or object it describes.

Noun phrase example sentences:

  • A myriad of emotions flooded him at the announcement.
  • I have a myriad of medications to take after the accident.
  • The computer performs a myriad of functions

While the above sentences may sound like they are describing the object, “myriad” is actually telling us that there are countless numbers of the object. Therefore, it almost functions like a collective noun.

Adjective example sentences:

  • There are myriad views on the topic.
  • There are myriad styles and colors available.
  • The sky is filled with myriad stars.

In the above sentences, “myriad” functions as an adjective because it tells us how many nouns there are. It indicates that there are too many to count of that particular object.

In What Context Can You Use “A Myriad Of”

You can use “a myriad of” when you wish to inform someone about how many there are of something. It is a hyperbolic word because it is unlikely that there would be an uncountable number of things.

Therefore, you can use “a myriad of” when you want to make a compelling statement about something. For example, if you say, “There are a myriad of video games,” that means there are innumerable video games.

While it would be possible to count the number of video games, it is not really viable, which makes the use of “myriad” appropriate and effective to show just how great the number of video games is.

How Do You Use “A Myriad Of”?

You should use “a myriad of” when you want to indicate a large number of something, usually people or objects, although you can also use it with abstract nouns. It does not have any particular tense attached to it.

You can use “a myriad of” in any tense as it applies to the subject or object and does not need to change for a particular tense.

  • This app had a myriad of functions.
  • A myriad of functions is available in this app.
  • This app is going to have a myriad of functions.

There may be confusion about when you should use “a myriad of” as a noun and when you should use “myriad” as an adjective. It depends on what you are saying.

For example, if you indicate that there is too much of something to count (e.g., emotions, colors, clothes.), then you should use it as a noun. If there are many of an object, and you can count them quickly, then use it as an adjective.

Using “A Myriad Of” in a Full Sentence

“A myriad of” is not a standalone term. It would not function as a minor sentence even if you combine it with another noun. As a complete sentence, you should combine “a myriad of” with a noun and use it as either the object or subject of a sentence.

“A myriad” on its own functions as a noun. For example, “A myriad ran into the store for Black Friday sales.” In this example, “a myriad” refers to a large number, and we use context clues to understand that it refers to people.

However, when we combine “a myriad of” with a noun, it officially becomes a noun phrase that acts as a subject or object.

There are only certain types of nouns that you can use with “a myriad of.” You cannot use proper nouns with “myriad” as it tells us how many there are of something, and there should not be a large number of a proper noun.

However, you can use it with common and abstract nouns. It is especially applicable to abstract nouns as there are many of them, and they are difficult to count. However, not all are appropriate to use, like “love” or “hate,” and other emotions or feelings.

However, you can use abstract nouns that have plural forms, like “freedoms,” “souls,” and “futures.”

  • He felt a myriad of emotions.
  • A myriad of futures awaited Donna after her graduation.
  • They had endured a myriad of failures, and yet, they were still standing.

When using “myriad” as a noun, you must precede it by the indefinite article “a” because you do not know the specifics of the elements presented. Hence, you cannot use “the” before the noun form of “myriad.”

When you use “myriad” as an adjective, you can place it directly before the noun you are trying to describe. You can also use the English definite article “the” before the adjectival form because you are specific about the noun, not the adjective.

When Can You Use “A Myriad Of”?

“A myriad of” appears at the start or middle of a sentence. It cannot end a sentence because it needs to head up another noun with which you collectively use it.

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You use it at the start of a sentence when you want to emphasize the subject and how many there are of it. 

  • A myriad of thoughts crossed his mind.
  • A myriad of emotions threatened to overwhelm her.
  • A myriad of hair colors welcomed her as she entered the salon.

Using “a myriad of” in the middle of a sentence does not change the meaning of the term; “myriad” in mid-sentence may serve as the subject (purple) or the object (light green) of the sentence.

  • Jackie collapsed; a myriad of flashbacks swept over her.
  • Michael offered them a myriad of car models.
  • They walked in and encountered a myriad of appetizers.

As long as you don’t use “a myriad of” alone to end a sentence, you are probably using it correctly.

When Not to Use “A Myriad Of”

You cannot use “a myriad of” when describing a number of something or any count nouns. You also cannot use it combined with proper nouns or abstract nouns.

“A myriad of” does not apply to scenarios where you cannot have more than one of something or to something that cannot be in a plural form like “anger.” For example, you can show anger, but you cannot have many angers.

You also cannot use “a myriad of” when indicating something which does not have many elements unless you are using it for sarcasm or satire.

Incorrect Example Sentences:

  • There was a myriad of New Yorks around the country.
  • I suffered from a myriad of angers.
  • There are a myriad of appetizers. You can choose between five of them.

The above examples are all incorrect as they either use proper nouns (which cannot have more than one) or abstract nouns that are not plural.

In the final example, you see that we use the word “myriad” to refer to something that is not a large number; hence, it is incorrect. However, those sentences would be fine if you were trying to be sarcastic about the number of appetizers available. 

What Can You Use Instead of “A Myriad Of”?

The most common synonyms for “a myriad of” would be “a large number of” or “a great amount of.” While these are technically correct, these phrases are adjectival phrases and not nouns.

If you agree with the original Greek meaning, then 10,000 is a possible synonym for “myriad.” The issue is that many people do not use “myriad” as a specific amount, so this is not the most livable synonym to use nowadays. 

There are several synonyms for “myriad,” and you can also use them similarly to “a myriad of.” Some of these synonyms are “scores,” “quantities,” “multitudes,” and “masses,” all of which are particularly useful for inanimate objects.

  • There are multitudes of options available for buyers.
  • There are quantities of boxes across all the warehouses.
  • I examined the masses of atoms underneath the microscope.

Other synonyms are more applicable to people and animals, such as “throngs,” “swarms,” “hordes,” and “droves.”

  • The hordes of people descended on the mall for Black Friday.
  • A swarm of bees attempted to find the queen.
  • The droves of angry men and women marched for their rights in Washington.

Since there are several synonyms you can use, you must choose the correct one for the subject or object you want to refer to. Unlike “a myriad of,” you can use these synonyms with the definite article “the” or the most suitable indefinite article “a” or “an.”

Common Phrases

Common phrases (or idioms) are sentences most native speakers understand as a regular part of language and communication. Most phrases are figurative in nature, and there is an implicit understanding that the phrase is not literal.

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“A myriad of” is the start of a common phrase that people use when they want to tell us about a large number of something. It is highly unlikely that the subject or object numbers 10,000, but it is an effective phrase.

There are several common phrases that people misuse or misunderstand – for example, saying someone is “butt naked” is technically incorrect. Still, the term has become so common that it is widely accepted even though the correct form is “buck naked.”

Another example is the words “well” and “good” in common phrases like, “He did good in his exam,” which some people use interchangeably. However, “well” is an adverb while “good” is an adjective (source). 

What about other phrases? Read Is It Correct to Say “And Then Some”? to learn more about this colloquial phrase.

Luckily for us, the meaning of “myriad” does not change significantly whether you use it as a noun or as an adjective. 

Noun Forms with Prepositions

Certain nouns automatically combine with specific prepositions. These patterns are a helpful way of creating sentences and using nouns and prepositions correctly. 

Words like “responsibility” and “reason” always combine with the preposition “for.” Example: “I am responsible for his education.” “Response” and “reaction” connect with the preposition “to” (source).

  • Maria had a reaction to the allergen.

In our situation, “myriad” can only combine with “of” when you use it as a noun, or if you use it as an adjective, a noun directly follows it.

These combinations exist because these particular prepositions create connections or provide explanations for the noun. Misusing a preposition makes the meaning ambiguous or hard to understand.

There are different patterns you can use to connect nouns and prepositions. For example, synonymous words like “esteem,” “admiration,” and “respect” all connect with “for.” We see this within synonyms of “myriad” as well, which also connect with “of.”

Understanding which preposition attaches to which noun is complicated for some speakers. Read “Knowledge on or Knowledge of: Which Is Correct?” to learn more about preposition patterns.

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For example, if we say “a myriad in colors” or “a myriad about colors,” it would not make sense because you are saying that there are large numbers in colors or large numbers regarding colors. 

Final Thoughts

“A myriad of” is an effective phrase in written and verbal communication. Its hyperbolic nature makes it a practical expression for emphasizing how many elements you are referring to.

While there might be some confusion about using “myriad” as a noun or verb, remember that the noun form is always preceded by “a” and followed by “of” and a common noun. After reading this article, you can use it in a myriad of ways or in myriad ways – whichever you prefer.