Results 1 to 10 of 10

    • Join Date: Jun 2010
    • Posts: 1
    #1

    Is or are, a tricky one

    "What makes each of us unique are our principles" or "What makes each of us unique is our principles"?

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Vietnamese
      • Home Country:
      • Vietnam
      • Current Location:
      • Vietnam

    • Join Date: Jun 2010
    • Posts: 472
    #2

    Re: Is or are, a tricky one

    Quote Originally Posted by johnnglsh View Post
    "What makes each of us unique are our principles" or "What makes each of us unique is our principles"?
    Neither is true.
    It should be:
    (the things) What make each of us unique are our principles
    Thanks

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Oriya
      • Home Country:
      • India
      • Current Location:
      • India

    • Join Date: Mar 2008
    • Posts: 2,121
    #3

    Exclamation Re: Is or are, a tricky one

    Quote Originally Posted by johnnglsh View Post
    "What makes each of us unique are our principles" or "What makes each of us unique is our principles"?
    Here are two clauses joined by a relative pronoun (that) which is the subject of the secind clause but incidentally dropped. ‘that’ refers to the subject of the main clause ‘what’’ which is singular. So you need a singular verb ‘is’. In that case, replace plural noun ‘principles’ by singular noun ‘guiding principle’. Say:
    What makes each of us unique (that) is our guiding principle
    Or
    Our guiding principle is what makes each of us unique.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Vietnamese
      • Home Country:
      • Vietnam
      • Current Location:
      • Vietnam

    • Join Date: Jun 2010
    • Posts: 472
    #4

    Re: Is or are, a tricky one

    Quote Originally Posted by sarat_106 View Post
    Here are two clauses joined by a relative pronoun (that) which is the subject of the secind clause but incidentally dropped. ‘that’ refers to the subject of the main clause ‘what’’ which is singular. So you need a singular verb ‘is’. In that case, replace plural noun ‘principles’ by singular noun ‘guiding principle’. Say:
    What makes each of us unique (that) is our guiding principle
    Or
    Our guiding principle is what makes each of us unique.
    do you mean we can't make a sentence with phrasal plural 'our principles' in this case.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Oriya
      • Home Country:
      • India
      • Current Location:
      • India

    • Join Date: Mar 2008
    • Posts: 2,121
    #5

    Exclamation Re: Is or are, a tricky one

    Quote Originally Posted by crazYgeeK View Post
    do you mean we can't make a sentence with phrasal plural 'our principles' in this case.
    When the pronoun (Each) is followed by an of phrase containing a plural noun or pronoun “Each of us has an inner dream’, there is a tendency for the verb to be plural but most usage guides maintain that only the singular verb is correct. That is why ‘What makes each of us’ is more acceptable. Of course there are instances of plural verb being used as you have suggested.
    Last edited by sarat_106; 12-Jun-2010 at 10:27.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Dec 2009
    • Posts: 6,332
    #6

    Re: Is or are, a tricky one

    Quote Originally Posted by johnnglsh View Post
    "What makes each of us unique are our principles" or "What makes each of us unique is our principles"?
    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****

    Hello, Johnnglsh.

    (1) Some experts say that "what" is always singular ("The thing that").

    So your second sentence would be correct.

    (2) Today most experts say that "what" may be singular ("The thing

    that") or plural ("The thingS that").

    (3) I may be wrong, but I think that your sentence is "easy" to

    analyze:

    (a) The writer said: What makeS. '

    (b) Therefore, s/he was thinking of "the thing (singular) that."

    (c) So your sentence is something like:

    The thing (that makes each of us unique) IS our principles.

    (i) The thing IS/ NEVER: The thing are.

    (4) BUT please remember two things:

    (a) Sometimes "what" is plural. ("The thingS are")

    (b) It is not always easy to know whether to use "is" or "are."

    (Even the experts often disagree.)

    (c) Even though "is" is the "correct" answer to your question,

    there are some (many?) native speakers who would use "are"

    because it sounds "better" or "more natural."

    (d) Here are two sentences from a very popular English usage book:

    (I changed the example a little bit)

    (i) What worries restaurant owners more ____ customers like John Doe.

    (a) The usage book says that the "correct" answer is "is," but that

    "are" sounds more "modern." The writer of that book says that "are"

    in that sentence is NOT "wrong." Some books would say "are" IS wrong.

    You are a learner. So you should probably follow the "rule"

    and use "is" in your sentence. Remember: sometimes the "rule"

    will require you to use "are." If you find other confusing "what"

    sentences, be sure to post them here so that people can discuss them.

    ***** Thank you *****

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Vietnamese
      • Home Country:
      • Vietnam
      • Current Location:
      • Vietnam

    • Join Date: Jun 2010
    • Posts: 472
    #7

    Re: Is or are, a tricky one

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****

    Hello, Johnnglsh.

    (1) Some experts say that "what" is always singular ("The thing that").

    So your second sentence would be correct.
    I don't understand if "what makes each of us unique is our principles" is true , so I can be sure that "It is our principles" is also true, isn't it?
    I think it should be "what makes each of us unique is our principle"
    Can you explain me more about "principle" , "principles" and the influence to the choice of "is" or "are" in this case please. Thanks.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Dec 2009
    • Posts: 6,332
    #8

    Re: Is or are, a tricky one

    Quote Originally Posted by crazYgeeK View Post
    I don't understand if "what makes each of us unique is our principles" is true , so I can be sure that "It is our principles" is also true, isn't it?
    I think it should be "what makes each of us unique is our principle"
    Can you explain me more about "principle" , "principles" and the influence to the choice of "is" or "are" in this case please. Thanks.
    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****

    Hello.

    (1) Thanks for your great question. I shall share what LITTLE I know.

    (2) Teacher Sarat and I agree that the "correct" sentence is:

    What (= the thing that) makes each of us unique IS our principleS.

    (3) If I understand your question, you want to know whether we can

    also express this idea with a sentence that begins with "It."

    (a) This is what I discovered:

    (i) Many years ago, you could say:

    It is our principles what make each of us unique. =

    It (what make each of us unique) is our principles.

    (ii) Today "good" English requires:

    It is our principles THAT MAKE each of us unique.
    ("That" agrees with "principles," so we say "make," NOT: makeS.

    (4) Maybe I understand your confusion about "principle" and

    "principleS."

    (a) Maybe this example will help a little:

    My favorite fruit IS orangeS. ("is" because of "fruit." It does NOT matter

    that the noun is plural ("orangeS").

    (b) Remember that "What makes each of us unique is our principles" =

    The THING IS principleS. ("is" agrees with "thing"; it does NOT matter that


    the noun is plural ("prinicipleS").

    (c) In English, we often use the plural:

    I like your principleS. (That is, ALL of your ideas about how you

    live your life.)

    But sometimes we use the singular:

    I like Mr. Smith because he is a man of principle. (That is, he does what

    is right.)

    (5) If you have more questions, please post them. Many people here

    will be very happy to try to answer them.

    ***** Thank you *****

  1. Raymott's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia

    • Join Date: Jun 2008
    • Posts: 24,091
    #9

    Re: Is or are, a tricky one

    Quote Originally Posted by crazYgeeK View Post
    I don't understand if "what makes each of us unique is our principles" is true , so I can be sure that "It is our principles" is also true, isn't it?
    Your use of "true" is incorrect. You mean "correct".
    We don't say that a sentence is grammatically true. That has no meaning.

  2. Banned
    Interested in Language
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Hungarian
      • Home Country:
      • Hungary
      • Current Location:
      • Hungary

    • Join Date: Feb 2010
    • Posts: 1,121
    #10

    Re: Is or are, a tricky one

    'what' can have singular as well as plural value. 'makes' in your sentence reveals the number of 'what': singular. But then, we have 'our principles', which is plural. A singular 'what' can't refer to a plural 'our principles', unless the latter is regarded as a unit.

    What makes each of us unique are is our principles.
    What make each of us unique are our principles.


    to Theparser:

    The similarity with NPs can be further seen in the fact that certain nominal relatives exhibit number contrast:

    Singular: [What we need] is a plan
    Plural: [What we need] are new ideas
    Nominal Relative Clauses @ The Internet Grammar of English

Similar Threads

  1. [Grammar] Tricky Question !
    By Bader2004 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 18-Jun-2009, 15:36
  2. Tricky IDIOMS
    By Adenaaa in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 28-Feb-2009, 17:05
  3. Tricky it is.
    By nyggus in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 10-Aug-2007, 13:39
  4. a tricky question
    By udara sankalpa in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 25
    Last Post: 22-Jun-2007, 20:55
  5. Few tricky problems
    By Atesttaker in forum General Language Discussions
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 06-Jun-2004, 00:12

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •