Shopping malls are a posh place.

I read some sentences using "a plural + be + a singular" somewhere before, but I couldn't remember which context it was, or it was just a writing error. But I researched this kind of structure today and haven't got the answer.

So I'm not sure if this sentence is grammatical when "malls" is a plural and "place" is a singular?

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    Hi, I'm afraid that asking for text to be checked for errors is off-topic on this site. Your question must be on a point of learning English. It sounds like you've already got an inkling it is wrong - why not research that yourself? If you don't understand what you find in research, bring that back and ask for an explanation - that could possibly form the basis of a valid question.
    – Astralbee
    Commented Jun 13 at 8:38
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    Dear Phoebe, it sounds like you don't know what 'posh' means. Fortnum and Mason or Harrods are posh. Your average shopping mall is not. Commented Jun 13 at 9:34
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    @Mari-LouA - I'm trying to think of it also, but it's not coming to me either. Unless you mean the Burlington Arcade? I would say the these days 'mall' is as widely used as 'covered shopping centre' in the UK, especially in casual contexts. I regularly go to somewhere at the edge of Bristol called officially 'The Mall at Cribbs Causeway'. Commented Jun 13 at 9:59
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    @MichaelHarvey Burlington Arcade Yes, that's the one!
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jun 13 at 10:02
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    How on earth does this have four votes to close as "proofreading"? There is a clear concern. Sometimes I think people have gotten the idea that the problem with proofreading questions is that someone is looking for immediate, practical, and specific help; the problem really is that they're often too broad and open-ended, a request to spot errors in a whole paragraph where there might be none, leading to very divergent and unhelpful answers. Commented Jun 13 at 16:54

4 Answers 4


No, *Shopping malls are a posh place is not idiomatic. We form a predicate with a singular noun after a plural predicand only when conceiving of the predicand as a class. Thus,

Sunglasses are one way to protect your eyes from UV light


Shopping malls are an idea that may be making a comeback.

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    @Phoebe Note, some examples could go either way. "Shopping malls are seen as a threat by local businesses": Means local shops say "Shopping malls [in general, as a whole] are a threat!" "Shopping malls are seen as threats by local businesses": Means many shops look at a specific mall and say "That mall is a threat!" Commented Jun 13 at 16:57
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    As a stylistic comment, I'd suggest that "might" should be preferred to "may" in this context, i.e. "an idea that might be". From the POV of somebody who has done a lot of technical etc. writing, the problem with "may" is that it might be parsed either as "might happen" or "is permitted to happen", and avoiding the ambiguity is advisable if possible. Commented Jun 14 at 12:16
  • "...malls are...an idea..." sounds weird to me. I would try "The shopping mall is an idea..." if I needed a singular verb. Or something like "The idea of shopping malls is...
    – user8356
    Commented Jun 14 at 18:59

It might look "illogical", but I think most native Anglophones are quite comfortable with...

Pubs are a good place to [drink beer].
Schools are a good place to [learn stuff]
Stores are a good place to [buy stuff]
[Shopping] malls are a good place to [hang out]

I know those all feature ...a good place to..., but there are also lots of...

...a posh place to...

Every one of those lines links to at least dozens of published written instances, and I'm quite sure people do it more often in speech than they would in formal written contexts. It's pointless and pedantic to rail against the construction.

I will at least acknowledge that...

[plural] are an [adjective] place
...as a standalone utterance, such as...
Pubs are a good place

...isn't remotely idiomatic. But I hope my examples with infinitive-based "adverb of purpose" clauses have convinced you that in the right context, there's nothing inherently wrong with [plural] are an [adjective] place.

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    "Pubs are a good place to...." might be heard commonly, but it's ungrammatical. I would change it to "pubs are good places to...." if I were copyediting that. It's not hard to make the noun agree in number...
    – user8356
    Commented Jun 14 at 19:03
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    Well, like I said above, It's pointless and pedantic to rail against the construction. But I'm not gonna argue the toss. People have different opinions. Except I can't resist linking this chart showing that Pubs are good places isn't recorded often enough to chart, whereas Pubs are a good place is there. Commented Jun 14 at 19:06

No, that is incorrect. It should be:

Shopping malls are posh places.


A shopping mall is a posh place.

  • I'd never thought of a shopping mall as a posh place, but otherwise I totally agree with this answer. "Posh is not the word" springs to mind. Commented Jun 15 at 9:30

Why not "Shopping malls are posh"? Still factually incorrect, but it's grammatically OK.

  • Yep, that works and avoids the verb-noun number disagreement.
    – user8356
    Commented Jun 14 at 19:04

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