Count naturally by saying THERE ARE

Try to spot what is unnatural about the following statement, “The number of people on my team is 5.”

The problem is that 5 is a number, so adding the word "number" is unnecessary. We don’t need to tell the listener that. Rather, it's better to say, "There are 5 people on my team."

It is possible to start with the number, e.g., "5 people are on my team." However, in spoken English, "There is/are (number)..." sounds stronger and clearer.

When discussing zero or nothing, you must use "there":

  • There aren't any fluent English speakers on my team.
  • There's no limit to what we can achieve.
  • There's nothing left to say.

On the other hand, we can use "number" when talking about an increase or decrease:

  • The number of employees at my company has increased almost 10% compared to last year.
  • Since the stock crash, our numbers are down across the board.

It should be noted that it   is not grammatically wrong to say, “the number is 5.” But in common usage it has the effect of emphasizing the verb to be (in this case, "is") and would only be used to disagree and very firmly state that the real number is, in fact, 5.

A: That team has 8 members and they’ve been working on the same project for over a year.
B: No, the number of team members is 5 and they’ve only been working for half a year.
A: Oh, I’m sorry. My mistake.

You may also say, "Five people are on my team." Or, "My team has 5 people." But where I live, it's more common to say, "There are 5 people on my team."

So, practice saying "there are" with numbers.

  1. How many pens are on your desk?
  2. How many people are on your team?
  3. How many people are in your building?

If you'd like more practice, then write some homework or talk about those things with your next instructor. 

across the board [idiom]—applying to all parts, typically all parts of a company.