I've always seen the "Who is back?" question with the singular verb "are", even when the question is rhetorical and the answer is clearly a plural noun but I recently came up against "Who are back?". My first thought was that it's an error but maybe I'm wrong. Can it be considered grammatically correct when the "implied subject" is undoubtedly plural?

Edit: The question I encountered is actually "Guess who are back?". Is it correct if it clearly refers to a plural subject? Besides the grammatical correctness I'm also interested in how native speakers would ask the question (in case of a plural subject).

  • 2
    Does this answer your question? Which is the correct question ("Who has" vs "Who have")?
    – user3395
    Jan 30, 2020 at 22:33
  • Thanks, the answer addresses almost completely my issue. Hence I assume that "Guess who are back?" is grammatical (in case of a "plural override", i.e. the expected answer is plural), is that true? I also would like to know if the expression is commonly used by native speaker of if the singular form is preferred for this particular question (even when a plural answer is expected).
    – david_sap
    Jan 31, 2020 at 10:12
  • From the provided answer I'm guessing that the usage of the plural in "Guess who are back?" is "tending to unacceptability, but not fully unacceptable" (cf. 1st answer). What is missing to completely answer my question is some clarification from a native speaker about the usage of this question.
    – david_sap
    Jan 31, 2020 at 10:21


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