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English as a Second Language/Singular subject and verb but plural noun


Dear Shannon,

Would you please explain the use of singular subjects and verbs with plural nouns?

1. It is the school holidays.
2. It is diseases that can be caught and passed on if they are infectious.

In sentence 2, it is clear that the subject is plural as clear from the use of "they are".

Best regards,
Antoine Ghannoum

I can't think we would normally do that in English, unless "it" somehow refers to some singular subject in a prior sentence...and I can't really think of a good example in this case.  Unfortunately, it's early in the morning here, and I can't think of some alternative examples with mixed subject/verb agreement either (but again, those would also likely have to do with the antecedent being in a previous sentence).

So, as far as I can tell, you should write:

"They are school holidays."
"They are diseases that can be caught and passed on if they are infectious."

English as a Second Language

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Shannon Cole


I can answer questions related to learning the English and Spanish language.


I have taught ESL and Spanish since 1998 at the university and middle school levels. I am a native of the U.S., and have taught in both the U.S. and Mexico.

I am owner and operator of, an online language school.

Georgia TESOL in Action (1999)

B.A. in Spanish; M.Ed. in Language Education

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I have clients worldwide, some who want their documents proofread, and others who take lessons with me through the Internet. Some work at high-profile companies and government organizations. Besides the U.S. and Mexico, my recent students come from South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey, Colombia, Russia, Italy, Paraguay, China, Japan, the Philippines, and Saudi Arabia.

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