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Is it idiomatic and grammatically correct to say "these are just basic math"? When looking at a bunch of math scribbles on a chalkboard, is it correct to say "These are just basic math"? I did so one day at a mathematics class while I was at my local university, and someone implied that it wasn't correct English and it made no sense.

Here's what I mean by "math scribbles" (arguably not basic math):

enter image description here

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If you have multiple, separate formulae or expressions, whether written on chalkboard or in a text it would be perfectly correct to say:

These are just basic math.

with the "these" referring to the multiple expressions. However, when the expressions merge together into single mass of "scribbles" as in the image in the question, "this" seems better because the writing seems to be a single "thing".

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You're close, but "math" (or "maths" in British English) is an uncountable noun, so the correct expression is:

This is just basic math. (American English)

This is just basic maths. (British English)

In the singular form, this is grammatical and idiomatic.

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  • I don't think the countability of "math(s)" enters into it, rather, it comes down to what the speaker is referring to. If there are a series of problems on the board, it would be perfectly acceptable to state "these are basic math". As long as you're referring to distinct problems/symbols/equations/etc. and not the board as a whole, singular unit, the plural form is fine. – Nuclear Hoagie Aug 16 '19 at 19:25
  • “These equations are basic math” does not need math to be countable. The equations are countable. – whiskeychief Aug 16 '19 at 19:33

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