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

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


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.” – user10871523 Jan 6 '19 at 0:49
  • Yes, that seems completely normal and is the way I would phrase it. – Robert W. Jan 6 '19 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 '19 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? – user10871523 Jan 6 '19 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? – user10871523 Jan 6 '19 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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