• They are three apples.
  • Guess who is John.

For these 2 sentences, is it correct and natural to say this way?

2 Answers 2


They are three apples.

Here, it would be more natural to say, "There are three apples" (describing them) or "Here are three apples" (pointing at them). I can't really think of many scenarios where saying "They are three apples" would be the best choice of words.

Guess who is John.

This one seems alright. If you had a bunch of people lined up and told me, "Guess who is John," I would understand you. It just seems a little weird out of context.

  • There is a picture of several people. And the title is “Listen to the conversation and guess who is John.” Jan 6, 2019 at 0:49
  • Yes, that seems completely normal and is the way I would phrase it.
    – Robert W.
    Jan 6, 2019 at 0:50
  • By the way, in your question, you wrote, "is it correct and natural to say this way?" This should be, "is it correct and natural to say IT this way?". Just a tiny correction.
    – Robert W.
    Jan 6, 2019 at 0:53
  • 1
    Do you mean that “Guess who John is.” and “Guess which one John is.” are grammatically correct while “Guess who/which one is John.” not? Jan 6, 2019 at 1:12
  • 1
    -What are these? -They are apples. These are sentences from a textbook. When a numeral is added before “apples”, does it sound correct to you? Jan 6, 2019 at 1:48

"They are three apples" is grammatical, but it would be a rare situation where the locution would sound natural.

"They are apples" would be a natural answer to the question, "What kind of fruit is that?"

"There are ten apples in this bag" would be a natural answer to the question "How many apples are in that bag?"

A situation where a statement of the form you are discussing might be natural is this. You and a friend see four women seated at a table, and the friend says "Do you know those women who look so amazingly similar." You respond, "Yes, I know them. They are three sisters and a cousin so their similarity is not that amazing."

To sum up, the structure of "they are three apples" is perfectly grammatical, but it is a structure rarely used.

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