I know a lot of people would say the correct sentence is “Horses are useful animals.”

But I think we can say “Computers are an important research tool.”, so I think we can say “Horses are a useful animal.”

Am I wrong? Please explain.

  • Horse is a kind of useful animal. Oct 20 '18 at 1:14

You are not comparing like with like. Here is one pair

Computers are useful tools.

Horses are useful animals.

and here is another

Computers are an important research tool.

Horses are an important means of transport.

Although the statements about horses are not necessarily true today.

  • Hello Vane, I know that the first pair subject(Computers, Horses) is plural and object(useful tools, useful animals) is plural as well. But what I want to ask is why the second pair subject(Computers, Horses) is plural and object(an important research tool, an important means of transport) is singular? Apr 23 '19 at 14:46
  • Because of the generalisation. Computers (in general) are important. The 4th is clearer because "transport" is a singular word anyway. Apr 23 '19 at 14:51
  • How am I supposed to know what is difference between (1) [ Subject(plural) + are + Object(plural) ] and (2) [ Subject(plural) + are + a/an Object(singular) ]? Apr 23 '19 at 14:56
  • I don't know, I am not a formal grammar teacher. Apr 23 '19 at 14:58
  • 1
    They mean the same thing. Apr 23 '19 at 15:10

No, you cannot write a sentance like that - you are mixing up the plural "Horses" with the singular: "a ... animal"

Either Horses must become singular, such as "The Horse species", or else the final part must be plural too, or perhaps: "Horses are useful."

  • Can anyone explain why this answer was downvoted? Feb 19 '19 at 10:57

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