Vegans and vegetarians are two different things

This one sounds okay. But what if i say the same sentence this way

Vegans and vegetarians are/is not the same things/thing

I think it should be vegans and vegetarians are not the same things, because vegans and vegetarians both are plural.

And of there were two singular like:

Chili and pepper

I guess it should be

Chili and pepper are not the same thing

Because chili and pepper are singular, so thing should also be singular


1 Answer 1


One quirk of English is that the singular and plural forms of many words can refer to different things. For example

I like chicken (the meat)
I like chickens (the animals)

In your first example, vegan and vegetarian (singular) are adjectives used to describe a particular person or diet.

She maintains a strict vegetarian diet

The singular form can also refer to a person who follows the diet, but only if indicated by the context. Also in this case you usually need some determiner (a, the, this, that, etc.) :

Susan is a vegetarian, so please don't invite her over for "steak night".

I know this vegan who is also a body builder. I don't know how he gets enough protein.

Vegans and vegetarians (plural) always refer to people who follow that diet.

Many vegans like to do some kind of mindful exercise like yoga.

Although I've never been one, in my life I've known many vegetarians.

It's important to understand what you are talking about when constructing these sentences. Some options when talking about these as adjectives:

Vegan is not the same thing as vegetarian.

Vegan and vegetarian are not the same thing.

Vegan and vegetarian are different things.

If talking about these as people, you have to write the sentence differently

A vegan is not the same thing as a vegetarian.

Vegans and vegetarians each have different dietary restrictions.

As for your other example, I would probably use quotes (or italicize the words) to make it clear:

"Chili" and "pepper" are different things.

Chili and pepper are not the same thing.

Although, actually this is not quite correct. It would be better to say:

A "chili" is a kind of "pepper", but not all peppers are chilis.

  • Isn't this correct? Vegans and vegetarians are not the same things.
    – user61918
    Sep 11, 2017 at 7:09
  • @user236989 Yes, except that it's an awkward sentence because they're not things. They're people. It's usually rude to call a person a thing. When you say "a vegan" you can imagine you're talking about a general example, but "vegans" refers to a group of people. You can say "Vegans are not the same as vegetarians" though.
    – Andrew
    Sep 11, 2017 at 7:12
  • Okay so it was my fault. Let's take another example X and Y is/are not the same thing/things?
    – user61918
    Sep 11, 2017 at 7:29
  • @user236989 Either singular or plural, really. "Not the same thing" is a kind of idiomatic phrase, so few would notice if you used a singular noun to represent plural objects. Ex. "Chili peppers and bell peppers are not the same thing". Grammatically, yes, it makes more sense to say "Chili peppers and bell peppers are not the same things" but for some reason it sounds a little odd. To avoid that I'd just use the singular to represent the general case "The chili pepper and the bell pepper are not the same thing".
    – Andrew
    Sep 11, 2017 at 14:28
  • But @andew my concern is that chilli pepper and the bell pepper are two things. So shouldn't it be The chili pepper and the bell pepper are not the same things not thing
    – user61918
    Sep 11, 2017 at 14:33

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