1. Her only hope for the future is her children.
  2. Her only hope for the future are her children.

Do we have to use 'is' or 'are'? Why is that?

  1. Our principal crop is potatoes.
  2. Our principal crop is the potato.

Can we use both of them? How about 'are' instead of 'is' in #3?


1 Answer 1


#1/#2. The correct verb to use is "is". "Is" is the 3rd-person singular present tense form of the verb "to be", while "are" is the plural present tense form of the same verb. ("To be" is widely considered to be the most irregular verb in the whole of the English language).

Since the subject of the sentence ("her only hope") is singular, the verb must also be singular in order to be in subject-verb agreement. The object of the verb "her children" does not have to be in agreement with the subject and verb.

#3/#4: Both sentences are grammatically correct, although #3 sounds more natural, at least to this native speaker. For the same reasons as #1/#2, it is grammatically incorrect to use "are" (but a native speaker may so anyway). However, we could say "Our crops are principally potatoes", and retain the same meaning.

  • I would rather say that #4 sounds more natural, but I agree that both are fine. However I think your final example is misleading, as I would say, "Our crop is principally potatoes", using the uncountable definition of "crop".
    – Andrew
    Commented Oct 31, 2018 at 6:04
  • Simply turn those phrases round, then ask which works for you: Her children is her only hope for the future… Her children are her only hope for the future… Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 0:45

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