The Great Lakes is/are a major highway for transportation, migration, and trade as well as home to a large number of aquatic species.

I had thought "is" is correct since even though the Great Lakes sounds plural the designation refers to one place and the "a" following is or are indicates that it is a singular (and hence, "is"). However, apparently, the answer is "are", and I'm now very confused. And when I searched Google, it seems that people mostly associate "are" with the Great Lakes. But if I don't know the place beforehand, how can I choose the right answer?

  • this may help ell.stackexchange.com/questions/72945/…
    – Mrt
    Commented Sep 30, 2018 at 12:12
  • @Mrt — thanks, it's certainly a good post to reference to, but it doesn't really seem to help me when I have to choose one or the other and it's not up to my personal preference...
    – space
    Commented Sep 30, 2018 at 12:16
  • Please google "the Rocky Mountains " about subject-verb agreement or plurality/singularity. For example I found another website addressing this issue. If you read you can see that the moderator of the website says "The rules for singular or plural verb with the names of mountain ranges alone do not seem perfectly clear." However, this further research can help you comprehend
    – Mrt
    Commented Sep 30, 2018 at 12:23

1 Answer 1


The Great Lakes are a series of interconnected freshwater lakes. The term is plural. However, the Great Lakes region of North America is a singular item that includes portions of eight U.S. states and one Canadian province of Ontario.

  • So would any region that has a plural name (as in "Lakes") be used with plural verbs?
    – space
    Commented Sep 30, 2018 at 11:42
  • 2
    It depends what you are referring to. The Great Lakes are a number of lakes. The Great Lakes region is an area of North America. Commented Sep 30, 2018 at 12:14

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