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I am not sure if "is", "are" or "represent" can be used in a sentence like this:

"All these (things) is/are/represent(s) evidence he was not there."

UPDATE

Because I have received slightly conflicting answers I will try to make my initial question a bit more clear. There are four versions. Which one is correct?

1) All these represent evidence he was not there.

2) All these represents evidence he was not there.

3) All these are evidence he was not there.

4) All these is evidence he was not there.

2 Answers 2

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If you are pointing the things that repesent the evidence, or if they're already mentioned. Then things is optional. However, you don't need is or are

"All these (things) represent evidence he was not there." -is grammatical

In an active simple present sentence, is, are, be, and am are known as linking verbs, A linking verb links a subject with a predicative adjective or a noun. Represent is a verb. So, you dont need one here. You can read more about it on Wikipedia

You dont need an s after represent because it has to agree with the plural subject. You can read more about it here

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  • So, "All these represent evidence" is the correct form and "All these is evidence" is incorrect but what about "All these are evidence"? Jan 20, 2017 at 8:36
  • @RobertWerner it's incorrect too. Evidence is a mass(uncount) noun. So you must use a singular copula. All this evidence is. Jan 20, 2017 at 8:51
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    @user178049 - Wait, why do you think "All these are evidence" is incorrect? It looks perfectly correct to me.
    – stangdon
    Jan 20, 2017 at 13:08
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    @user178049 The 'things' are plural, each thing is evidence, together they are evidence.
    – user42526
    Jan 20, 2017 at 13:26
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    @user178049 - But this isn't using a mass noun plurally. We're not saying "Evidence are", we're saying "These are". There are many, many examples of people using "These are evidence" in formal writing.
    – stangdon
    Jan 20, 2017 at 13:45
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This is evidence. 
This represents evidence. 
This whole thing is evidence. 
This whole thing represents evidence. 

These are evidence. 
These represent evidence. 
All [of] these things are evidence. 
All [of] these things represent evidence. 

The relevant rule is subject/verb agreement.  The verb's subject must agree with that verb, in both number and person. 

The pronoun "this" is a singular third-person pronoun.  It agrees with the verb forms "is" and "represents".  The pronoun "these" is a plural third-person pronoun.  It agrees with the verb forms "are" and "represent". 

The words "this" and "these" are also adjectives -- in fact, they are the same adjective.  Most adjectives do not have a grammatical number, meaning that adjectives themselves are rarely singular or plural.  However, "this" is the singular form and "these" is the plural.  For this reason, "this" agrees with "thing" and "these" agrees with "things".  We have an example of adjective/noun agreement

As an extension, when "this" and "these" are used as pronouns, the grammatical number must match the number of whatever they represent. 

There is one thing of which we have no example: verb/argument agreement.  Subjects must agree with their verbs.  Adjectives must agree with their nouns.  Pronouns must agree with their antecedents.  A verb's arguments are a separate matter. 

In the sentence "These are evidence", there is no reason to expect "evidence" to agree with either "these" or "are".  The word "evidence" is the kind of argument that we call a complement.  Specifically, it is a predicate nominative subject complement. 

The same thing happens in the sentence "These four people are my team."  Granted, "these four men" is plural, "my team" is singular, and both phrases represent the same thing.  They simply don't represent their referent in the same way.  It is just as natural to say "these four people are my team" as it is to say "my team is these four people". 

Subject/verb agreement matters and is necessary.  Verb/argument agreement doesn't matter and is sometimes impossible. 

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  • From your answer I understand that the correct versions are: "1) All these represent evidence" and "3) All these are evidence" and the wrong forms are: "2) All these represents evidence" and "4) All these is evidence". Jan 20, 2017 at 18:04

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