It sounds correct to me to say.

She is actually a man. (Regardless how weird the sentence is)

But in this situation as we take plural subject.

they are actually surprises.

It sounds a bit odd like I am using the adverb to modify the noun (surprises), although it's intended for the verb to be.

Can we say

they are actually a surprise.

Is there any rule that explains what should we use after plural subject + to be, singular noun or it has to be plural? or we can use both, and is this sentence they are actually surprises correct?

And what is the official term of this Noun/prounoun + to be + noun Thanks in advance.

  • 3
    Yes, you can say that, and all your examples are fine. There's no rule that says the predicative complement and the predicand must always agree (though they usually do). There are plenty of perfectly acceptable examples to be found, for example: Our neighbours are a nuisance; The accidents were the result of a power failure. – BillJ Dec 19 '16 at 19:09
  • There's no such thing as subject-complement agreement. Only a verb has to agree with the subject. – user178049 Dec 20 '16 at 1:37
  • That's not strictly true. Most people would find examples like My daughters are a doctor and The person who complained was my parents quite unacceptable. – BillJ Dec 21 '16 at 18:10

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