The words “is” and “are” are two of the most commonly used verbs in the English language, but they can also be some of the most confusing. Both “is” and “are”- are forms of “to be,” a common linking verb and being verb.

In most English grammar situations, “is” – is the form used with a singular subject, making it the singular verb, while “are”- is the plural verb for plural subjects.

Understanding when to use “is” and when to use “are” is crucial to effectively communicating in English, both spoken and written.

This blog post will explore the most common mistakes people make with “is” and “are” and provide tips for avoiding them.

  1. Confusing “is” and “are” in the present tense:

The most common mistake people make with “is” and “are” is using the wrong verb in the present tense. “Is” – is used with singular nouns and pronouns, while “are” is used with plural nouns and pronouns. E.g.,

  • The dog is playing in the park. (Correct)
  • The dogs are playing in the park. (Correct)
  • Using “is” with collective nouns:

Collective nouns, such as “group,” “team,” and “family,” can be singular or plural depending on the context. If the collective noun is being thought of as a single unit, use “is.” If it is being thought of as individual members, use “are.” E.g.,

  • The team is winning the game. (Correct)
  • The team members are playing their best. (Correct)
  • Using “are” with uncountable nouns:

Uncountable nouns, such as “water” or “music,” are always singular and should always be used with “is.” For example:

  • The water is clear. (Correct)
  • The musics are good (incorrect)
  • Using “is” in the plural form:

It is a common mistake to use “is” instead of “are” when referring to multiple items. For example:

  • The apples are ripe. (Correct)
  • There is many problems on the highway today (Incorrect)
  • Confusing “is” and “are” in questions:

In questions, the verb must agree with the subject. If the subject is singular, use “is.” If the subject is plural, use “are.” For example:

  • Is the dog barking? (Correct)
  • Are the dogs barking? (Correct)

Note: Be careful when answering questions.

  • Question: Is today Saturday? (Correct question)
  • Answer (incorrect): Yes, it’s.
  • Answer (correct): Yes, it is.

It is considered wrong to end a sentence with a contracted form.

In conclusion, understanding the difference between “is” and “are” is essential for effective communication in English. By avoiding the common mistakes outlined in this blog post, you can improve your grammar and confidently express your thoughts and ideas. Perfect practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to put these tips into action in your English.

Since 2003, BROWNS English Language School has delivered world-class English Language training to international students from around the world. More than 35,000 students from 102 nationalities have completed a BROWNS program, making BROWNS one of the leading private ELICOS provider in Queensland for adults and young learners.


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