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Is vs. Are: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Published on February 17, 2024
"Is" is a singular form of the verb 'to be,' used with singular subjects; "are" is the plural form, used with plural subjects or the pronoun "you."
Is vs. Are

Key Differences

Is is used with a singular subject in the present tense, as in "He is a doctor." It denotes a state of being or existence for a single entity. Are, in contrast, is used with plural subjects, as in "They are friends," indicating a state or action related to multiple entities.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 17, 2024
In questions, is typically precedes a singular noun or pronoun, such as "Is the cat hungry?" This form is essential for correct grammatical structure in singular queries. Are, however, is used in questions involving plural nouns or pronouns, for example, "Are the dogs playing outside?" ensuring grammatical agreement in plural contexts.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 17, 2024
Is also pairs with singular indefinite pronouns like "each," "each one," "either," "neither," "everyone," "someone," as in "Everyone is invited." These pronouns, despite implying more than one entity, are grammatically singular. Are is used with plural indefinite pronouns like "few," "many," "several," as in "Several are available," which are grammatically treated as plural.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 17, 2024
In the case of collective nouns, is can be used when the collective noun is treated as a single unit, like "The team is winning." Here, the focus is on the team as one entity. Are is used when the collective noun is considered as multiple individuals, as in "The team are wearing their new uniforms," focusing on the members of the team.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 17, 2024
Is also appears in contractions such as "he's" or "it's," where it denotes possession or a state of being. Are forms contractions like "they're" or "you're," indicating a plural or second-person possession or state.
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Shumaila Saeed
Feb 17, 2024
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Comparison Chart

Subject Type

Singular nouns or pronouns
Plural nouns, pronouns, and the pronoun "you"
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Feb 17, 2024

Question Formation

Precedes singular nouns/pronouns
Precedes plural nouns/pronouns
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Indefinite Pronouns

Pairs with singular (e.g., "everyone," "someone")
Pairs with plural (e.g., "few," "many")
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Collective Nouns

When the group is considered as a single unit
When focusing on individual members of a group
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Contraction Forms

Forms like "he's," "it's"
Forms like "they're," "you're"
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Is and Are Definitions

Is

Denotes existence or state of being for singular subjects.
The cat is sleeping.
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Jan 16, 2024

Are

Indicates a state or action for plural subjects or the pronoun "you."
The children are playing in the park.
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Jan 16, 2024

Is

Forms contractions with pronouns and nouns, indicating possession or state.
It's raining outside.
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Jan 16, 2024

Are

Appears in contractions indicating a state or possession for plural subjects.
They're going to the concert tonight.
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Is

Used for singular third-person present tense of 'to be.'
She is a talented artist.
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Are

Utilized in plural declarative sentences.
The answers are on the board.
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Jan 16, 2024

Is

Used in singular interrogative sentences.
Is your brother home?
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Are

Used for plural present tense of the verb 'to be.'
They are studying for their exams.
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Is

Appears in singular declarative statements.
This solution is correct.
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Jan 16, 2024

Are

Second person singular and plural and first and third person plural present indicative of be.
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Jan 15, 2024

Is

Third person singular present indicative of be.
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Are

A metric unit of area equal to 100 square meters (119.6 square yards).
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Is

Used in phrases with existential there when the semantic subject is a third-person plural.
There is three of them there.
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Jan 15, 2024

Are

Inflection of be
Mary, where are you going?
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Is

(Geordie) me.
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Are

Inflection of be
We are not coming.
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Is

(rare) i's.
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Are

Inflection of be
Mary and John, are you listening?
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Is

The third person singular of the substantive verb be, in the indicative mood, present tense; as, he is; he is a man. See Be.
For thy is I come, and eke Alain.
Aye is thou merry.
To-morrow is the new moon.
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Jan 15, 2024

Are

Inflection of be
They are here somewhere.
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Are

Inflection of be
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Are

(rare) An accepted (but deprecated and rarely used) metric unit of area equal to 100 square metres, or a former unit of approximately the same extent. Symbol: a.
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Jan 15, 2024

Are

Misspelling of our
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Are

The present indicative plural of the substantive verb to be; but etymologically a different word from be, or was. Am, art, are, and is, all come from the root as.
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Jan 15, 2024

Are

The unit of superficial measure, being a square of which each side is ten meters in length; 100 square meters, or about 119.6 square yards.
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Are

A unit of surface area equal to 100 square meters
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Are

Employed in plural interrogative sentences.
Are the cookies ready?
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

In what context do I use 'are'?

Use 'are' with plural subjects or the pronoun "you."
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Feb 17, 2024

How does 'is' function in a contraction?

'Is' forms contractions like "he's" or "it's," often indicating possession or state.
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Feb 17, 2024

What is the role of 'are' in contractions?

'Are' forms contractions like "they're" or "you're," used for plural subjects.
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Feb 17, 2024

Can 'is' and 'are' be interchangeable?

No, they are not interchangeable as they correspond to different subject numbers.
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Feb 17, 2024

Is 'is' used with collective nouns?

Yes, when the collective noun is treated as a single unit.
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Feb 17, 2024

Can 'are' be used with indefinite pronouns?

Yes, but only with plural indefinite pronouns like "many" or "several."
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Feb 17, 2024

How do I use 'is' in a question?

Place 'is' before a singular noun or pronoun in interrogative sentences.
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Feb 17, 2024

What is an example of 'are' in a question?

An example would be, "Are the dogs fed?"
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How do I decide between 'is' and 'are' for collective nouns?

It depends on whether the group is seen as one unit (is) or as individuals (are).
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Feb 17, 2024

When should I use 'is' in a sentence?

Use 'is' with singular subjects or third-person singular pronouns.
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Shumaila Saeed
Feb 17, 2024

Is 'are' appropriate for formal writing?

Yes, 'are' is appropriate and necessary for correct grammar in plural contexts.
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Feb 17, 2024

Can 'is' ever be used with plural subjects?

No, 'is' is exclusively for singular subjects.
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Shumaila Saeed
Feb 17, 2024

Are there exceptions to using 'are' with singular subjects?

Generally no, except in cases of plural nouns or the pronoun "you."
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Shumaila Saeed
Feb 17, 2024

Can 'is' be used with the pronoun 'you'?

No, use 'are' with the pronoun 'you,' regardless of its singular or plural reference.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 17, 2024

What happens if I mistakenly use 'is' instead of 'are'?

The sentence will have a grammatical error, affecting its correctness and possibly its meaning.
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Feb 17, 2024

Are there dialects or varieties of English where 'is' and 'are' are used differently?

Some dialects may have variations, but standard rules generally apply across English dialects.
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Shumaila Saeed
Feb 17, 2024

Do 'is' and 'are' have the same meaning?

They convey similar meanings but differ based on the number of the subject.
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Feb 17, 2024

Can I use 'is' with a name that represents a group?

Yes, if the group is treated as a single entity.
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Feb 17, 2024

How does the meaning change when using 'is' instead of 'are'?

Using 'is' changes the subject from plural to singular.
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Feb 17, 2024

Can 'are' be used in a singular sense in any context?

Typically no, except in informal or colloquial language, which might not follow standard grammar rules.
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Feb 17, 2024

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Shumaila Saeed
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Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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