Are the following two sentences correct, considering S-V agreement?

All she has are a house, a car and a job.

All she has is a house, a car and a job.

I tend to think the first makes more sense as the items mentioned together form a plural that requires a plural verb. This is even clearer if we reverse the order of the first sentence as follows:

A house, a car and a job are all she has.

However, for some reason, my mind still accepts is. Maybe because it can still regard all as a single entity or a group of things taken together.


1 Answer 1


Both sentences are correct. It is sometimes very effective to use all in a cleft structure if you want to focus on one particular thing (meaning the only thing,everything, nothing more). All is a pronoun in these sentences. All (that) I +verb is actually an object in the front position and the real subject is delayed . We find it after be. The traditional agreement (a singular noun agrees with a singular and a plural noun with a plural verb form ) is valid. But when all is a direct object we can use either a single or a plural verb after the clause. We can consider what "is left" as an entity.The traditional agreement is used more often.

All (that) I want for Christmas is a new coat. A new coat is all (that) I want for Christmas.

All (that) he had were buckets of water for his severely skinny herd. Buckets of water were all he had.

All I need is names and addresses. All I need are names and addresses.

Every other use requires a singular verb.

All (that) I have is yours.

  • All is never a noun. In this context, it is a pronoun. dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/all
    – JavaLatte
    Aug 19, 2016 at 9:46
  • All. n. The whole of one's fortune, resources, or energy; everything one has: The brave defenders gave their all. American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
    – V.V.
    Aug 19, 2016 at 10:04
  • Ok, almost never. But definitely not in this case :-)
    – JavaLatte
    Aug 19, 2016 at 11:20
  • 2
    @JavaLatte It's neither a noun nor a pronoun. It's determinative. One simple reason is an adverb (for example almost) can modify all here, unlike a noun or a pronoun. May 27, 2017 at 14:38
  • @Man_From_India that's not true in the case cited in the earlier comment, where it's clearly a noun, albeit in a very restrictive usage – see Merriam-Webster, entry 4. In the OP's original sentence, all does function as a determinative of the missing words the things – in fact, its order in the NP means it's a predeterminer. Dec 4, 2021 at 5:06

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