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Most people grow up learning that the word “is” should be used when talking about one person or thing, and the word “are” should be used when talking about more than one person or thing.
However, many people are unsure of which word to use when it comes to “children.”
The quick answer is that “child” is a singular noun and “children” is a plural noun. “Children” is a plural noun even though it doesn’t have an -s. Even so, we must agree with the subject of the sentence (children) and use “are.”
Read on for examples of the word “children” in a sentence so you can apply your knowledge correctly.
Children: A Collective Noun
“Children” is a collective noun. A collective noun refers to a group of people or things, with other common examples including “family” and “army.”
When dealing with a collective noun such as “children,” we must look for subject-verb agreement. “Children” is a plural noun. “Child” is the singular noun.
Children: Is or Are?
In general, when you are talking about one child, you should use the word “is.” For example, “My child is four years old.”
However, when you are talking about more than one child, you should use the word “are.” For example, “My children are four and six years old.”
Sentences with Children
Take a look at some other examples when the subject is “children.”
- Children are wonderful creatures.
- The children are playing in the park.
- The children are very tired.
- The children love the zoo.
- The children do their homework.
Confused how to make “children” possessive? Read our post for the answer: Childrens or Children’s or Childrens’: Which is Correct?
Important point: We must change the verb “be” so it agrees with the subject.
Here is where there might be some confusion about whether we use “is” or “are.”
Take the sentence:
- “The idea of children not going to school is a crime, in my opinion.”
Explanation: Here, we say “is” because the subject “idea” is singular. (The idea… is…)
- “Christmas is a time when children receive presents.”
In this sentence, “Christmas” is the subject. Therefore, we pair it with “is” as “Christmas” is singular.
- “The definition of children is a group of young people.”
“Definition” is the subject of the sentence, which is singular, and “is” agrees with it.
Therefore, as long as there is a subject-verb agreement, the answer is grammatically correct!
Some quick, bite-sized information if you are still unsure:
Is “children” plural or singular?
Children is a plural noun. A plural noun shows that there is more than one.
Is “children” a noun?
Children is a collective noun. This represents a group of young people. For example, “my children are all married now” and “the children are having fun.”
Is “children” a verb?
No, “children” is a noun, not a verb. For example, “she has five children.”
What is the singular of “children”?
“Child” is the singular word for “children.” One child, two children, three children…
Children “do” or children “does”?
Children is a plural noun. Therefore we say “children do,” so the verb agrees with the subject, for example, “the children do their chores every day.”
If you are still unsure which word to use, a good rule of thumb is to remember that “is” is used for singular nouns and “are” is used for plural nouns.
So, if you are talking about one child, you would use the word “is” because “child” is a singular noun. But, if you are talking about more than one child, you would use the word “are” because “children” is a plural noun.
Now that you know the correct grammar when talking about children, you can confidently use the correct word whether you are talking about one child or many children.
Thank you so much for reading! I hope you found this helpful. Comment with a grammatically correct sentence containing the word “children.”
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I'm an Irish tutor and founder of TPR Teaching. I started teaching in 2016 and have since taught in the UK, Spain, and online.
I love learning new things about the English language and how to teach it better. I'm always trying to improve my knowledge, so I can better meet the needs of others!
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