Saturday 12 October 2013


Are you sure is is right? What does one do to decide?
Illustration by Samantha Kickingbird

Often, singular verbs sound odd in a sentence--let's look at the  rule: 
   When using a singular noun or subject, the verb needs to be singular.  When using a plural noun or subject, the verb needs to be plural.
The sentences below are written correctly (nouns or subjects are underlined).
     -  "The pot of onions is cooking over the fire." (pot of onions is considered the subject).
    -  "Suzy's favorite book is adventures."
   -  "Fantasies are my favorite type of book."
   -   "Neither is correct."
   -   "Neither of them is correct." ('of them' is a modifier--the presence of a modifier is irrelevant).
   -   "Either the dragons or the donkey is responsible for the mess." (this sentence is technically correct, but akward).
   -   "Either the dragon or the donkeys are responsible for the mess."
   -   "The Lord of the Kingdoms is getting frustrated with all of his subjects who are asking silly questions." (Lord of the Kingdoms is one person).
So, just as you thought is was all pretty straight forward--these sentences are correct also:
   -  "The rules of the kingdom are listed in the royal rule book."
   -  "The economics of the kingdom are silly."
   -  "Economics is a silly topic."
   -  "The dragon is one of those eccentric creatures who do not follow the rules." (Think like, "those who do not follow the rules.)
   -   "I am the only one of my friends who does follow the rule." (Think like, "one who does follow the rule.)
As we see: is, are, do, and does can sometimes be meddlesome. The rule is not always pertaining to the noun they are beside, but often pertaining to the subject.The best way to decide is to look at the noun or subject you are referring to--is it singular or plural?
It is hereby proclaimed that there is no single rule regarding singularity of nouns.  

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Article Copyright, Diane Mae Robinson, 2013


  1. Whoa! I have never thought about this before. But I will admit, sometimes I want to use "are" and it doesn't sound right so I use "is" even if I don't like the way it sounds either. Nice sentences as examples. You are a pretty good tutor.

  2. Thanks, Sue, for calling me a good tutor. Your test will be coming to you tomorrow via e-mail.

    Sometime 'is' sounds better than 'are' or the other way around. I think we pick up those habits from the way people speak, which is not always technically correct, and that's why is sounds better to us--we're used to it being said that way.

  3. Yeah, yo're right. We do talk differently down here than you do up there. It is probably the cleaner air.

  4. Ah, yes, cleaner air and that refreshing odor of fermenting dragon poop--clears the mind and stirs the soul.

  5. "Yuck!" said my mucky soul. I'll stick with cat poo.

  6. I saw the lake of disaster just north of Alberta. I hope that doesn't get to you and cause trouble. Seriously, it is a clean air killer. Oops, that was for another, more political site.

    There is no dragon poop here that I know of, but lots of cat poo and soon, very soon I believe, lots of doggie do-do. Oddly, that is a very good thing. There was an offer, and seller was serious about taking it and then backed out.

    I am starting to think this are the one . . . this IS the one that are . . . that IS meant to be. We all is . . .all ARE very happy things is going . . . things ARE going our way. Geez, this are/is thing is difficult stuff. Or is it is/are? Which came first?

  7. I think "is" gave birth to "are". Well maybe.

    Wishing you much success in your animal shelter endeavor. And it's a good thing you aren't too finicky about poop, as soon you will be cleaning lots of it.

    Oh, by the way, don't you have to clean up after Snarls when he visits you there? Or do you have him potty trained? Picturing it and laughing.