Here's a sentence:

Are you a parent and is looking for answers on [something]?

My proposed corrections:

  1. Are you a parent and are looking for answers on [something]?
  2. Are you a parent who is looking for answers on [something]? *

My friend argues about the second correction, saying it is incorrect and it should be:

Are you a parent who are looking for answers on [something]? ^

Who is right, and why?

* Justification for who is: The pronoun who refers to a parent, not you.
^ Justification for who are: The subject of the sentence is you, not a parent, hence the verb to be that comes after who must agree with the subject, you.

  • 2
    I would write "Are you a parent looking for answers on [...]?" and avoid the full issue. :)
    – apaderno
    Jul 7, 2013 at 6:08
  • 1
    Your friend is wrong. No one talks like that.
    – user230
    Jul 7, 2013 at 15:25
  • @WendiKidd Thanks for the edit. I didn't mean to offend anyone :)
    – ADTC
    Jul 7, 2013 at 15:57
  • @ADTC In this case, you could say "in Standard English", since that's what your question is focusing on (and what we generally try to focus on here at ELL). If you need a more neutral way to refer to the dialect you mentioned, try AAVE (African American Vernacular English). In particular, I suggest leaving out the "thug" part, since it's spoken widely by non-thugs.
    – user230
    Jul 7, 2013 at 18:38
  • Er, that was just a quote, extraneous information.. and yes, I'm looking for standard English answers.. I probably, shouldn't have included the quote, that was a bad idea (thought it's funny, but I guess some may not take it lightly).. anyway, the question is not about AAVE or thugs. Besides it's already edited out :)
    – ADTC
    Jul 7, 2013 at 18:49

1 Answer 1


Looking on the Corpus of Contemporary American English for sentences containing are you a [noun] who I find only sentences like the second one you wrote.

Are you a person who's a long time here?

Are you a poet who's a doctor, or are you a doctor who's a poet?

Is that who you are, or are you a Christian who sings?

The reason is the one you said: The noun phrase requires a verb in the third singular person. It is "a doctor who is a poet" not "a doctor who are poet." You could say "doctors who are poets," but that would mean that the subject of the sentence is plural.

Are you parents who are looking for answers on [...]?

You can also not use "who is" / "who are."

Are you a parent looking for answers on [...]?

In this case, you would be using a present participle phrase that, as all the participle phrases, acts as adjective.

  • I don't think you've clearly identified that your first example sentence ("Are you a person who's a long time here?") is incorrect. I don't want to change your answer in a way you wouldn't want, so would you mind editing to remedy this? I could try if you prefer, but I wanted to give you the option first. (And I'll delete this comment once we've sorted it out, so it doesn't clutter up your answer :)) Thanks!
    – WendiKidd
    Jul 7, 2013 at 15:11
  • Thanks for your answer. Something however is wrong with your first example as Wendi points out. I would also like you to expand contractions (who's -> who is) so that the examples are explicitly clear.
    – ADTC
    Jul 7, 2013 at 16:00
  • What's wrong with the first example sentence is the verb tense. It should be "Are you a person who has been a long time here" (or more idiomatically, "Are you a person who's been here a long time"). Jul 7, 2013 at 18:29
  • @WendiKidd The sentences I wrote have been taken from the Corpus of Contemporary American English. They are not examples I wrote myself.
    – apaderno
    Jul 7, 2013 at 21:01
  • 1
    The sentence in question is in COCA, but it ultimately comes from this article in The Atlantic. It's a transcription of an old woman's spoken English, and I don't think it was intended to represent Standard English. I think that perhaps it's dialect, though I can't identify which one. (Perhaps another user such as @StoneyB might recognize it...?)
    – user230
    Jul 7, 2013 at 21:13

You must log in to answer this question.

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