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Difference Between is and are

‘is’ vs ‘are’

In the English language, the words ‘is’ and ‘are’ are both present tense verbs. They are subjected to potential subject and verb agreement, just like all verbs in the English language. However, it may seem that ‘is’ and ‘are’ are even more confusing than most people think.

Samples of ‘is’ usage are cited in these sentences:

1. The cat is in the hat.
2. Account permissions is displayed for everyone to see.
3. A pair of scissors is used for cutting the dog’s coat.
4. There is a big squirrel in my front yard.
5. What is the man doing with his shoe?
6. Is it the end?

In the examples, the verb ‘is’ is used to agree with the singular nature of the subjects.

1. ‘Cat’ is obviously singular.
2. ‘Account permissions’ may appear to be plural, but the subject is taken as a singular entity.
3. ‘A pair’, which is apparently singular, is taken as the main subject, but many would confuse ‘scissors’ as the subject of the sentence which is, in turn, plural.
4. The subject in the sentence is ‘squirrel’. In sentences just like this, the verb should agree with the singularity or plurality of the immediate noun that follows. However, there are disputes in this category concerning conventions between American English and British English.
5. ‘Man’ is the subject in the sentence.
6. ‘The end’ is the subject, and just like the fourth example, the immediately following noun should be taken as the primary subject.

Samples of ‘are’ as used in sentences:

- Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus.
- You are the sunshine of my life!
- Monkeys and other wildlife from the jungle are covered in hair.
- Gerard and Rony are friends.
- Are we there yet?
- What are you doing with your life?

Brief explanations of each sentence in relation to the verb ‘are’:

- In the first half of the statement ‘Men’ is the subject. ‘Women’ is the subject in the second half. Both subjects are plural.
- The pronoun ‘you’ is always plural.
- Although ‘wildlife’ can be singular, it is paired with monkeys, which make the subject ‘Monkeys and other wildlife’ a plural subject.
- ‘Gerard and Rony’ is a subject composed of two people, and is therefore plural.
- ‘We’ is the subject of this sentence in question form. It should start with ‘are’ if it is a ‘yes or no’ question.
- Once again, ‘you’ is the subject, which is always agreed upon by the verb ‘are’.


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2 Comments

  1. Would you say:
    Christmas orders are/is in full force.

  2. I’d personally say, “Christmas orders ARE in full force” being that it seems the subject ‘Christmas orders’ is plural. However, I think the correct statement would be “Christmas orders is in full force” due to example #2 – ‘Account permissions’ in this article… honestly, this being the first article I found about is/are it’s also a possibility the information is wrong.

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