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    • Join Date: Dec 2008
    • Posts: 6
    #1

    "This is" Or "These are"

    Dear Teacher,

    I am a bit confused by the sentence "This is a pen and two pencils." Is this sentence correct? Or should I say "These are a pen and two pencils"? I got this question because in the sentence introduced by "there is", you will say "there is a pen and two pencils." Is this principle of proximity also applied for the sentence introduced by "this is"? And the same way, am I correct to say "This is my mother and my father."
    I would be appreciated if I could get the answer from you. Thanks!

    Yours,
    Danny


    • Join Date: Jul 2006
    • Posts: 2,886
    #2

    Re: "This is" Or "These are"

    Quote Originally Posted by dannyzhen View Post
    Dear Teacher,

    I am a bit confused by the sentence "This is a pen and two pencils." Is this sentence correct? Or should I say "These are a pen and two pencils"? I got this question because in the sentence introduced by "there is", you will say "there is a pen and two pencils." Is this principle of proximity also applied for the sentence introduced by "this is"? And the same way, am I correct to say "This is my mother and my father."
    I would be appreciated if I could get the answer from you. Thanks!

    Yours,
    Danny
    There are two perspectives to view this problem from:

    1st:
    we present the items (pencils and pen) as separate. In this structure, "and" coordinates two sentences, each of which must therefore have its own appropriate verb – though the second verb has disappeared through ellipsis:

    There is a pen and (there are) two pencils.

    2nd viewpoint:

    There are one pen and two pencils.

    we present the items as a set. In this structure, "and" coordinates two nouns:

    There are (one pen and two pencils).

    But we can cheat a little:

    There are two pencils and one pen.


    • Join Date: Dec 2008
    • Posts: 6
    #3

    Re: "This is" Or "These are"

    Thank you for your reply. So do these two perspectives apply the same for "this is" and "these are"? When I introduce my parents, is it correct to say "this is my father and my mother", or do I need to say "these are my father and my mother"? In your two view points, they are both correct. Could you please further enlighten me? Thanks.

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