My confusion kicks in again and now I'm having a headache of which word to use.

All we need is your two hands.


All we need are your two hands.


From BBC Learning English Service (http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/grammar/learnit/learnitv149.shtml):

  • We now need actions rather than words

  • What we now need are actions rather than words

  • Actions rather than words are what we now need

And from The Columbia Guide to Standard American English:

"What I need is names and addresses." and "What I need are names and addresses." are both Standard, although the notional attraction from the plural predicate nominatives will tend to make the plural are the choice.

So, both your examples are correct, but it seems that English native speakers prefer the latter than the former.

  • 1
    Yes, but the two sources you've given may give a slightly misleading impression re US/UK differences. If there's one thing I've learned from ELU, it's that US speakers pay more attention to grammatical consistency in such constructions, where UK speakers take more note of the semantics. Thus the UK speaker would tend to say "What I need is names and addresses" when explaining to someone else that he has a need, but he'd use are when telling an audience, say, that he needs all their names and addresses. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica May 28 '13 at 15:08
  • @EltonJohnJonson You are welcome! :) – Persian Cat May 28 '13 at 18:03

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