In my opinion, easy-to-find, reliable sources [is / are ] what students really need.

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New Member
Hi all,

Could you guys look at this sentence: "In my opinion, easy-to-find, reliable sources is what students really need."

I'm not sure whether "is" is the correct verb form here. Shouldn't "sources" - a plural noun - be followed by "are"? Still, on the other hand, "easy-to-find, reliable sources" can relate to a "concept of having easy-to-find reliable sources" -> "concept" = singular, followed by "is." Also we could change this sentence into "What students really need is easy-to-find reliable sources. Maybe this is the reason "is" was used in this sentence... This is so complex! :)

I'd be very gratefull for your answers. :)
  • Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    This is always a problem when subject and subject complement disagree in number.
    I would use "are" because the plural "sources" comes first.
    If you invert the sentence, so that the (generic) singular comes first, then I would use "is": "What students really need is reliable sources."

    Welcome to the forum!


    Senior Member
    UK English
    Welcome to the English forum, obywatelka! :)

    What you seem to be arguing is that the existence of reliable sources is what students need. This sentence would be ok.
    But in your original sentence the subject (reliable sources) is plural and needs a plural verb.

    What is needed is/are is possible, but the plural tends to be more common in a sentence starting with What when the predicate nominative (reliable sources) is plural.

    (cross-posted (almost) with Edinburgher)
    Last edited:
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