When to Use Is or Are: Examples, Sentences, and Worksheets to Master Grammar

  • “Is” pairs with singular subjects while “are” is used with plural subjects.
  • Worksheets with example sentences aid in practicing the correct use of “is” and “are.”
  • Mastering the use of “is” and “are” is crucial for proper subject-verb agreement in English.

These two forms of the verb “to be” serve as the foundation for constructing clear and grammatically correct sentences. “Is” is used with a singular subject, whereas “are” fits a plural one. For example, “She is a teacher” contrasts with “They are teachers.” The choice between “is” and “are” depends on the subject-verb agreement, which is pivotal for the coherence of a sentence.

Understanding the Basics of ‘Is’ and ‘Are’

The verbs “is” and “are” represent the present tense forms of “to be” in English and hinge on whether the subject is singular or plural.

Defining ‘To Be’ Verbs

To be verbs act as main verbs or auxiliary verbs, conveying states of being, existence, or identity. In American English, “is” and “are” are the present tense forms of “to be,” reflecting the state of singular and plural nouns, respectively.

  • Singular Contexts: “is”
    • First person singular: “I am”
    • Third person singular: “He is,” “She is,” “It is”
  • Plural Contexts: “are”
    • Regardless of person: “We are,” “They are”

Singular vs. Plural Nouns

Using “is” or “are” correctly hinges on whether the subject noun is singular or plural. The following tables offer examples demonstrating their appropriate use.

Singular NounsUse ‘is’
The catThe cat is sleeping.
The book on the deskThe book on the desk is open.
Each participant in the studyEach participant is expected to…
Plural NounsUse ‘are’
The catsThe cats are playing.
The books on the shelfThe books on the shelf are aligned.
All participants in the studyAll participants are included.

Grammar pointers when writing in English emphasize that subjects and verbs must agree in number. Here are some specifics:

  • Singular Pronouns: Use “is” (She is walking.)
  • Plural Nouns: Use “are” (Dogs are barking.)
  • Collective Nouns: Can be tricky, as they may take “is” or “are” depending on whether the group acts as one unit or as individual members (The team is winning vs. The team are wearing their new uniforms.)
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Practical Applications and Exercises

Grasping the proper use of “is” and “are” is crucial for constructing sentences with correct sentence structure.

Constructing Simple Sentences

  • Use “is” with singular nouns and third person singular pronouns.
  • Use “are” with plural nouns, second person singular and plural pronouns, and first and third person plural pronouns.


  • “She is a teacher.”
  • “They are students.”

Worksheet Tips:

  1. Provide clear instructions with examples.
  2. Include a variety of questions that allow for practice with both “is” and “are.”

Constructing Sentences Table:

Singular ExamplesPlural Examples
The cat is black.The cats are black.
He is running fast.They are running fast.

Worksheets and Practice Activities

Worksheet Components:

  • Practice sentences for identification of proper use of “is” and “are.”
  • Fill-in-the-blank questions to enhance understanding.
  • Rewrite exercises to fix run-on sentences using conjunctions.

Activities Table:

Activity TypeDescription
IdentificationFind sentences in a story and highlight “is” and “are.”
Fill-in-the-BlankComplete sentences with the correct form of the verb “to be.”
Rewrite ExercisesGiven run-on sentences, insert the correct conjunctions and “is” or “are.”

Practice Activity:

  • Circle the correct form in brackets: “The dog (is/are) barking loudly.”

Included in the Exercises:

  • Questions to test comprehension.
  • Conjunctions to demonstrate combining sentences.
  • Sentences that require choosing between “is” or “are.”

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