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How to Use “Is” And “Are” Correctly

Written by Bonnie Adair
Posted: September 2, 2021
Last update date: March 22, 2024
3 min read

If you have ever been confused about when to use "is vs. are," you should know that you are not alone. This is a common enough mistake, considering that the two words have a similar origin. Therefore, particularly when writing more complex sentences, knowing which term to use can be tricky.

Well, your problems with "is vs. are" grammar is about to solve. The guidelines and examples below will allow you to understand how and rely on each word better. In turn, this will greatly reduce the number of mistakes that you will make in the future.

First, though, you will need to understand the meaning behind each word better before you can move on to grammar usage. Note that both of these words are different forms of the term "to be." To be can be used to define a state, quality, identity, or form of existence.

The actual difference between "is" and "are" is as follows:

  • Is: the third-person singular present tense of "to be".
  • Are: "The first-person plural present, second-person singular and plural present, and third-person plural present tense of "to be."

Examples of Correct Using Is and Are

To learn how to use these words properly within a sentence, take a look at some of the examples below. Along with these, you can also see the specific circumstances and rules under when to use "is" or "are". The precise use will depend on several factors within the sentence.

  • With singular entities – if the noun within the sentence is singular, then you should use "is"

The baby is walking towards the door

  • With plural entities – if the noun is plural, on the other hand, then you must use "are"

The babies are walking toward the door

  • With collective nouns – if you are trying to refer to a group, singular or plural may be your biggest confusion. In this instance, you should refer to them as a single entity. Thus, you will use "is". Here are some collective noun examples:

The school board is sorting out the complaints.

The couple is going out for their scheduled date night

  • With mass nouns – if you want to include an item that can't be counted (sand, water, etc.), you should describe it as a singular quantity. Therefore, you will be using "is"

This sand is a lot more waterlogged than the previous beach.

Ice cream is my favorite dessert.

  • With indefinite pronouns – if you are going to be using words such as "anyone" or "somebody", then you will consider it to be singular.

He is far more capable than anyone is aware of.


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Remember the Difference Between Using "Is" and "Are"

Here are a few tips to make it easier to keep "are vs. is" straight when writing:

  • Identify whether the noun is plural or singular. If it is plural, you will use "are", while "is" is meant for singular nouns.
  • Consider the form in which you are writing.

First person: plural subjects utilize 'are'

Second person: plural and singular subjects use 'are'

Third person: 'is' for singular subjects and 'are' for plural

Hopefully, the information above will have helped you to sort out your confusion regarding "is/are", making it easier for you to construct proper sentences. Of course, such a style does take a while to master, and so you make this type of mistake a few times before getting it right.

Now, you may be unable to make such errors when composing emails to important individuals. If you are in such a predicament, consider working with an essay writing service PapersOwl for a short while. This will allow you to gain some assistance regarding proper grammar use.

Remember, if you are struggling with English writing, academic or otherwise, it is always best to get some help. This is the only real way to learn the correct form and improve your capabilities. Therefore, this is certainly an opportunity that you should seize.

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