Is vs. Are: When to Use Are vs. Is (with Useful Examples)

In this article, we will explore some common mistakes made while using the verb “to be.” Regardless of whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced-level student, it is easy to make these errors. To assess your understanding, we’ll begin with a quiz, followed by explanations for each of the correct answers. By the end of this article, you will have a better grasp of the use of “is” and “are” when it comes to the language rule of singular and plural nouns as well as countable and uncountable nouns.

We will also delve into the understanding of “this,” “that,” “these,” and “those” and provide some guidance on identifying countable and uncountable nouns. Throughout the article, we aim to provide actionable insights that will help you avoid grammatical mistakes in the future. So without further ado, let’s dive into this exciting journey of learning the English language!

Key Takeaways

  • Improve your usage of the verb “to be” with singular and plural nouns.
  • Master the understanding of “this,” “that,” “these,” and “those.”
  • Learn to distinguish countable and uncountable nouns within sentences.

Is vs. Are

IS is the form of a verb to be that is used for singular nouns, while ARE is the form used for plural nouns.

So far, everything is pretty obvious. When you have a singular noun, you need to use is, e.g. The girl is intelligent, the cat is running in the yard. When you have a plural noun or more than one singular noun, use are, e.g. Her sons are at school, the boy and the dog are playing.

But what happens with collective nouns? Collective nouns are those that, even though describing a group of people, are still singular. An example is the noun team: a team consists of many players, and yet this is a singular noun. Because it’s singular, you still need to use is with it. Other examples would be sentences like “A couple is buying a new fridge” and “The committee is having a meeting right now“.

Sometimes, however, you can see an are after a collective noun. This can happen in American English if the writer wants to emphasize that this collective noun refers to more than one person. For instance, you might come across a sentence, “The couple aren’t being honest with each other“.

The English language also has mass, or uncountable nouns. These, as their name suggests, can’t be counted. For example, you can’t say that you have “two waters” or “two moneys”: these are two examples of mass nouns. They are followed by is in both British and American English, So, you would say, “Water is necessary for people to live” and “Money is the root of all evil”.

Now, what about phrases, such as a number of, a pair of, a group of?

Here, it might not be as obvious or as easy as it seems. With a number of, even though “number” is singular, it’s best to use are, e.g. “A number of students are reading this book now“. Other phrases, such as a group of, can take both is and are, depending on what you want to emphasize on. If your emphasis is on the group, then you should choose is, e.g. “This group of teachers is inspirational“. But when your emphasis is on individuals, you should go for are, e.g. “A bunch of teachers are changing their workplace this year“. Finally, with a pair of, it’s best to use is, e.g. “This pair of shoes is the last one“.

There Is vs There Are

One final thing that can cause confusion is the difference between there is and there are. To be safe and correct, look at what goes after this phrase and choose the verb according to the rules discussed previously. For example, a cat is singular, so the correct sentence to write would be, “There is a cat on the roof“. On the other hand, books are plural, so you would write, “There are many books on the shelf“. The rules of collective and uncountable nouns, as well as of collective phrases, also stay the same.

Is vs. Are Examples

  • The fox is known by his brush.
  • A good healthy body is worth more a crown in gold.
  • I will look after her child when she is on a business trip.
  • He is not really suited for a teaching career.
  • There is a connection between pollution and the death of trees.
  • You are never too old to learn.
  • They are preparing for the presentation of a new musical.
  • His children are very precious to him.
  • We are growing impatient with the lack of results.
  • There are two sides to every question.

Difference between Is vs. Are | Picture

Is vs. Are

Is vs. Are: How to Use Is vs. Are Correctly?


Let’s dive into the quiz. We’ll present you with six sentences where you have to decide whether to use “is” or “are”. Don’t worry if you’re unsure, we’ll explain everything afterward. Ready? Let’s begin.

  1. “Everyone ___ here.”
  2. “Some of the equipment ___ heavy.”
  3. “These flowers ___ lovely.”
  4. “___ anybody home?”
  5. “All the phone lines ___ busy.”
  6. “None of this information ___ correct.”

Got your answers? Let’s reveal the correct choices:

  1. “Everyone is here.”
  2. “Some of the equipment is heavy.”
  3. “These flowers are lovely.”
  4. Is anybody home?”
  5. “All the phone lines are busy.”
  6. “None of this information is correct.”

If you didn’t understand why these are the correct answers or if you got one of them wrong, stick around, as we’ll dive deeper into the explanations. We want to ensure you understand, so let’s examine three areas where you might make mistakes with the verb “to be.”

Singular Words

First, let’s focus on words like “everyone”, “everybody”, “someone”, “somebody”, “no one”, “nobody”. These might be confusing because “everyone” sounds like a lot of people. However, in English, “everyone” is still considered “one” and therefore singular. So with these words, you need to use the singular verb “is”: “Everyone is”, “someone is”, “no one is”, etc.

Demonstrative Pronouns

Next up are demonstrative pronouns: “this”, “that”, “these”, “those”. “This” and “that” are singular, so use the verb “is”: “This is lovely”, “that is lovely”. “These” and “those” are plural, so use “are”: “These are lovely”, “those are lovely”. Remember, it’s essential to discern whether you’re talking about one or multiple items.

Countable and Uncountable Nouns

Finally, we need to address countable and uncountable nouns. The determiners “all”, “most”, “some”, or “none” aren’t what causes confusion, but the nouns that follow them.

Take “all of the information _ true” as an example. We should use “is” because “information” is an uncountable noun. On the other hand, “all of the reports _” should be completed with “are” because “reports” is a countable noun.

It’s essential to familiarize yourself with countable and uncountable nouns, as they’ll help you determine whether to use “is” or “are” correctly. For example, “All of the luggage is here” and “All of the suitcases are here.” Subjects like “mathematics” and “economics” or languages like “French” and “English” are also considered uncountable nouns, so use “is” with them.

That’s it for this quiz section! Keep practicing, and understanding the verb “to be” with “is” or “are” will become easier with time. Good luck!

Explanation of Correct Answers

Singular Pronouns and the Verb “Is”

First, let’s discuss singular pronouns like “everyone,” “everybody,” “someone,” “somebody,” “no one,” and “nobody.” Although they may seem to refer to a group of people, these pronouns are considered singular. This means we should use the singular form “is” with these words: “Everyone is,” “someone is,” “no one is,” and so on.

Demonstrative Pronouns: “This,” “That,” “These,” “Those”

Next, we have demonstrative pronouns: “this,” “that,” “these,” and “those.” “This” and “that” are singular, so they should be followed by “is.” On the other hand, “these” and “those” are plural and should be followed by “are.”

Remember that “this” and “these” refer to something close, while “that” and “those” refer to something further away. Additionally, “this” and “that” are for singular items, while “these” and “those” are for plural items.

Countable and Uncountable Nouns

Finally, let’s discuss countable and uncountable nouns. The choice between “is” and “are” may depend on whether the noun that follows is countable or uncountable. With uncountable nouns, we use “is” because these nouns are considered singular, even if they represent a larger quantity. For example, we say “all of the information is true” since “information” is an uncountable noun.

On the other hand, when using countable nouns, we should use “are” if the noun is plural. For instance, we say, “all of the reports are” because “reports” is a countable plural noun.

It’s essential to know whether nouns are countable or uncountable in English, as it influences our verb choice. Keep in mind that subjects and languages, even if they end in “s,” are also considered singular, so we use “is.” Examples include “Mathematics is easy” and “English is a language.”

We hope that this explanation helps you understand when to use “is” and “are” in different contexts. By following these guidelines, you’ll be able to avoid common mistakes and strengthen your English skills.

The Language Rule of ‘Everyone’, ‘Somebody’, ‘Nobody’

First, let’s talk about words such as “everyone,” “everybody,” “someone,” “somebody,” “no one,” and “nobody.” These expressions might be confusing because they might refer to multiple people, but in English grammar, they are considered singular. As they represent “one” or “one group,” you should use the singular verb “is” with them. For example, “everyone is happy,” “nobody is here,” or “somebody is knocking on the door.”

Next, let’s consider the four English demonstratives: “this,” “that,” “these,” and “those.” The key to using them correctly is understanding their singularity or plurality. Both “this” and “that” are singular and should be used with “is.” In contrast, “these” and “those” are plural and require the plural verb “are.” For example, you would say, “this flower is lovely” and “these flowers are lovely.”

Lastly, the concept of countable and uncountable nouns might create confusion when using “is” and “are.” For instance, expressions like “all,” “most,” “some,” and “none” change the verb form depending on the countability of the noun that follows. If the noun is countable and plural, the correct verb form is “are.” For example, “all the reports are accurate.” However, if the noun is uncountable, use “is.” For instance, “all the information is accurate.” Keep in mind that uncountable nouns are always singular, even if they seem plural, like “mathematics” or “economics.”

In conclusion, understanding the language rules regarding common expressions like “everyone,” “somebody,” and “nobody” will help you enhance your English communication skills. Remember to use the singular verb “is” with these particular expressions, as well as with uncountable nouns. By avoiding common errors, we effortlessly improve our English proficiency.

Understanding ‘This’, ‘That’, ‘These’, ‘Those’

First, let’s understand that “this” and “that” are singular, while “these” and “those” are plural. Consequently, “this” and “that” require the usage of the verb “is,” while “these” and “those” need “are.” For example: “This flower is lovely” and “These flowers are lovely.”

Next, to choose between “this” and “that” or between “these” and “those,” consider whether the object being referred to is near or far. If the object is near, use “this” (singular) or “these” (plural). If the object is farther away, use “that” (singular) or “those” (plural). Here are some examples:

  • This book (near, singular)
  • That book (far, singular)
  • These books (near, plural)
  • Those books (far, plural)

In summary, when deciding which word to use, first determine if you’re talking about one object or multiple objects. If it’s one object, choose “this” (near) or “that” (far). If it’s multiple objects, select “these” (near) or “those” (far). By following these simple guidelines, you can effectively use “this,” “that,” “these,” and “those” in your sentences.

The Confusion of Countable and Uncountable Nouns

One common area of confusion involves words like “everyone,” “everybody,” “someone,” “somebody,” “no one,” and “nobody.” Although they may sound like they’re referring to multiple people, in English, they function as singular units. So, we should use the singular verb “is” with these words, like “everyone is happy” or “nobody is here.”

Next, let’s discuss demonstrative pronouns, specifically “this,” “that,” “these,” and “those.” Remember that “this” and “that” are singular and require the singular verb “is.” In contrast, “these” and “those” are plural and require the plural verb “are.”

The most puzzling area for learners might be determining whether a noun is countable or uncountable. Nouns like “information” and “luggage” are uncountable, meaning we cannot count them. Therefore, they require the singular verb “is.” On the other hand, countable nouns such as “reports” or “suitcases” can be singular or plural depending on the context, and they require agreement with the verb “to be.”

To avoid errors, we suggest familiarizing yourself with commonly used countable and uncountable nouns. This knowledge will help you improve your accuracy when speaking and writing, leading to more fluent English. Keep in mind that subjects like “mathematics” and “economics,” languages like “French” and “English,” and abstract concepts like “love” or “education” are considered uncountable, and thus use “is.”

Armed with this understanding of countable and uncountable nouns, you’ll no longer be confused when choosing between “is” and “are,” and your English will be more accurate and fluent than ever.

Countable Versus Uncountable Examples

In this section, we’ll provide examples to help you understand the differences between countable and uncountable nouns. This understanding is crucial when deciding whether to use the singular “is” or the plural “are” with the verb “to be.” Keep in mind that confusion can arise from various language aspects, such as subject pronouns, demonstrative pronouns, and differing noun types.

For example, consider using the verb “to be” with subject pronouns like “everyone,” “everybody,” “someone,” “somebody,” “no one,” and “nobody.” Even though they may sound like they represent multiple people, they are considered singular in English. Therefore, you should use “is” with these subject pronouns: “everyone is,” “someone is,” and “no one is.”

Next, let’s look at demonstrative pronouns, which can create confusion when determining whether to use “is” or “are.” For singular, use “this” and “that” (e.g., “this is lovely” and “that is lovely”). For plural, use “these” and “those” (e.g., “these are lovely” and “those are lovely”).

Finally, let’s explore countable and uncountable nouns. Uncountable nouns are always singular and cannot be counted, while countable nouns can be either singular or plural. The main distinction is whether you can count the noun in question.

For instance, “luggage” is uncountable, while “suitcases” is countable. Consider the following examples: “All of the luggage is here” (uncountable) and “All of the suitcases are here” (countable).

Another noteworthy point: subjects and languages are generally considered uncountable nouns, regardless of the presence of an “s” at the end. Therefore, you should use the singular form, as in “mathematics is easy” and “French is a beautiful language.”

Remembering these examples and rules will help you choose the correct form of the verb “to be” to ensure clarity and accuracy in your speech and writing.

Conclusion and Review

Now that we have gone through some of the more common challenges and tricky concepts when using the verb “to be,” we can review our understanding. Remember, the goal is to improve your usage of “is” and “are” and avoid common mistakes.

First, we looked at grouping words like “everyone,” “everybody,” “someone,” “somebody,” and more. Despite seeming plural, these words are considered singular in English. Therefore, we always use the singular verb “is” with them.

Next, we explored the distinctions between “this,” “that,” “these”, and “those.” When using “this” and “that,” refer to singular nouns, and always use “is”. On the other hand, “these” and “those” pertain to plural nouns, which means we employ the plural verb “are.”

Lastly, the trickiest part was understanding the concept of countable and uncountable nouns. It’s crucial to identify whether a noun is countable or uncountable to correctly use “is” or “are.” Uncountable nouns are always singular and use “is.” Some examples of uncountable nouns are “information,” “luggage,” and “English.” Meanwhile, countable nouns can be singular or plural. If plural, they will be used with “are,” but if singular, they take “is.”

By focusing on these aspects and practicing more, we can improve our English usage and minimize errors when working with the verb “to be.” Keep learning, and remember to stay confident and knowledgeable in your English journey.