3

The furniture in our classroom ___ uncomfortable.

Should I use is or are here? I found on the internet things like all of furniture is and house full of furniture is. But nothing about my example. Personally I think that correct is is, but website where I found this says that correct is are. So I'm writing here to find out.

2
  • 4
    Hello, Valera. The simple answer is that 'furniture' is almost always (and certainly here) used as a mass noun taking a singular verb. A more complete answer would include that 'furniture' can be a count noun (plural 'furnitures') when talking about say 15th and 16th Century French furnitures. And a deeper analysis is that furniture is etically discrete (you can count the chairs etc) but syntactically non-count (it takes a singular verb as usually used). Dec 31 '15 at 16:32
  • Could you link to the website which indicates that "are" is correct?
    – Leo
    Jun 29 '16 at 23:45
2

"furniture" is usually an uncountable noun, and is used as a noun in singular. Even though it might be composed of several items (cupboards, chairs, tables, sofas...), they function together like a whole. Think of it like this:

"furniture" = "set of (things)"

You will say:

The set is brad new.

instead of

The set are brand new.

Therefore it is correct to say:

The furniture is uncomfortable.


Bonus example

Similarly, think about a "deck of cards".

You will say:

The deck waits on the table, while the players gather around.

even though the deck may have up to 52 cards, not counting the jokers.

1

The correct answer is "is." Let's break the sentence down into it's parts of speech.

The furniture in our classroom ____ uncomfortable.

"The furniture...uncomfortable" = nominative
"in our classroom" = ablative
"is" = third-person singular present active indicative
OR
"are" = third-person plural present active indicative

In this sentence, the verb "to be" is supposed to equate the subject to the adjective ("uncomfortable") that follows it. The verb has to match the number/plurality of the subject. The subject of a sentence is also known as the nominative. As indicated above, "furniture" and its articles and adjectives are all in the nominative. Thus, "to be" has to match "furniture." "Furniture" is actually a weird word in English because it is considered to be uncountable. This means it only has a singular form and does not ever have a plural form (e.g. the plural of furniture is furniture). So, we would choose "is" because there is no plural form of "furniture," even if it was supposed to be plural.


There actually once was a plural of furniture, furnitures. It fell out of use during the 1900s, and would have taken the verb "are."

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .