I was confused by Grammarly which keeps saying that I have to use is instead of are in the example below.

Such are his usual responses to every question he is being asked.

Can someone clarify which form of to be I should use and why?


3 Answers 3


Grammarly, in its limited way, is trying to make the verb agree with "such" without looking at the referent, "usual responses". By itself, the number of "such" is ambiguous. Both of the following statements are grammatically correct.

Such is his usual response to every question he is being asked.


Such are his usual responses to every question he is being asked.

When faced with an ambiguous pronoun like "such", "which", and "who", you have to rely on the referent to indicate number. In your case, "usual responses" indicates that "such" is plural; in the added example I provided, "usual response" indicates that "such" is singular.

  • 1
    This isn't entirely accurate. In this sentence, "to be" isn't modifying "such", it's modifying "responses". The sentence structure simply obscures this a bit.
    – nmg49
    Oct 31, 2017 at 18:48
  • @nmg49 I beg to differ: "to be" is acting on both "such" and "responses", as it usually does as a copula. I argue that "to be" is acting on "this" in, "This is his typical response," and on "these" in, "These are his typical responses." Wouldn't "to be" act on the pronoun "such" in the same fashion?
    – Paul Rowe
    Oct 31, 2017 at 20:01
  • This is inaccurate. "to be" is not acting on "this", rather "this/these" is determined by the object of the noun phrase (ex: "this pizza", "these pizzas"). The article is acting on the noun, not the other way around. Also, "such" is not a pronoun. Pronouns are any words that can be used to substitute nouns, such as "he", or "she". Also, "to be" isn't acting on "his" in this sentence, it's acting on "responses". You could replace "his" with any pronoun and "are" would still be the correct form of "to be".
    – nmg49
    Nov 1, 2017 at 12:14
  • @nmg49 According to The Free Dictionary, "such" is a demonstrative pronoun.
    – Paul Rowe
    Nov 1, 2017 at 16:31

"Are" is correct because "responses" is plural.


In your example sentence, to be is referring to responses. Therefore, because responses is plural, so is to be.

One way to look at this is by rephrasing the question. In English, the grammar will rarely (if ever) change just by changing the structure of the sentence.

So if we rephrase this sentence, which is correct?

His usual responses [to every question he is being asked] is such


His usual responses [to every question he is being asked] are such

Now it's more intuitive that are is the correct choice here.

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