I saw a text from an article, which is given below:

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I want to know that why is is being used here. Here the subject is "choices" then why didn't the author use "choices are"?


I am sure that “choices” is not the subject of this sentence. I think something is omitted in the sentence, that’s why “is” is used here. The full sentence must be “having too many choices is not good for a young child”, where “having” is omitted; for this reason, “is” is used here. If the verb had been plural, then we would understand "choices" to be the subject.


Too many choices here is a collective, single entity, thus the singular is. Like "Fifteen miles is a long distance to walk." In that text too many choices means "an excessive number of choices" which is singular. Consider the following sentence:

Many choices are made by the officer every day.

Here, each choice is made separately, the choices are made one by one, one after another.

In your sentence it is different. A young child faces a set, an array of many choices from which the child is to choose something. A cloud of choices is before the child. That is what the author meant by choosing the singular is there, to show as a single entity, a multitude of choices from which the child is to pick just one, or maybe just a few of them.

  • I am confused now. Your answer is contradictory to the previous answer I received. – user116295 Jun 13 '20 at 13:01
  • @Acash - Yes, it is contradictory to the previous answer because I disagree with that answer. It's all about descriptive vs. prescriptive approach. A person wrote that text about choices and the way she used the verb 'to be' (is) fits the general pattern of English subject-predicate agreement in number. I've just explained for you why such usage is valid and what was meant by such usage. – Yellow Sky Jun 13 '20 at 13:28
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    The seemingly conflicting answers that Yellow Sky and PrinceSadh provided are simply descriptions from two different perspectives, @Acash. Sky offers an informal, plain English description--that "too many choices" in this context represents a singular concept. The verb agrees with the semantics of the subject. Sadh explains that a formal analysis under scholastic English fails. The verb does not agree with the form of its apparent subject. One way to make the formal analysis work is to assume an elision--something like "[having] too many choices" or "[the burden of] too many choices". – Gary Botnovcan Jun 13 '20 at 17:39

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