Is vs. Are

Difference Between Is and Are in English Grammar


“Is” and “Are” are examples of auxiliary verbs. They are called as such because both of them are two different forms of the root word  to be. “Is” denotes use for singular items while “are” denotes use for plural items. To illustrate further, let’s cite some examples wherein these two are being used:

Used to denote present tense, the word “is” may be used as follows: “ He is in America” meaning the singular person is currently in America. On the other hand, the word “are” may be used like this: “ Francis and Robert are in the park” which simply means that the two persons (plural) are currently in the park.

For use in questions, the following examples are given for the word “is”: “ Is it good or bad?”. To convey confirmative assertions we have “ Yes, it is.” The verb “was”, which is the past tense of “is” may also be used in the same way like “ Was it right or wrong?” and “ Yes, it was.”

Another use for the word “is” is to convey present continuous tense like “ The lion is roaring.” For past continuous tense the following sentence may be used “ He was eating food.” Apart from this, the word “is” may also be used as part of sentences that are affirmative in nature like “ He is dark complexioned” and “ The giraffe is a tall animal.”

Last but not the least, “is” may also be used in sentences that express exclamation. Some examples are “ How nice it is!” or “ What a kind of flower it is!” In such way, the plural form of this auxiliary verb “ are” may be used similarly as in “ How tall the trees are!” and “ How beautiful are these roses!”

To summarize:

  1. “Is” is the singular form of the root “ to be”
  2. “Are” is the plural form of the root “to be”
  3. “Is” may be used to denote present tense, questions, present continuous tense as well as past continuous tense. It may also be used for exclamatory sentences.
  4. “Are” is the plural form of “is”

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