Two plus two is/are four

How should one say "2+2=4" in your language?

  • Two plus two [b]is[/b] four.

    Votes: 15 36.6%
  • Two plus two [b]are[/b] four.

    Votes: 6 14.6%
  • Either is acceptable.

    Votes: 8 19.5%
  • There is no distinction between "is" and "are" in my language.

    Votes: 12 29.3%

  • Total voters
    41

Outsider

Senior Member
Portuguese (Portugal)
There was a previous thread about this question in the English forum, but I would like to extend it to other languages. What do you think is the right way to say this equality? Please answer the poll.

I will throw in a few extra questions, as well:

1) Were you taught a particular way to make these sorts of statements in school?
2) If so, does what you were taught coincide with how people actually speak?

I'm looking forward to your replies. :cool:
 
  • dn88

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Hi, in Polish it's definitely "is". In no way can one say "are" in my mother tongue. That would sound dreadful. Simply impossible. We say "Dwa plus dwa jest cztery" - "Two plus two is four".

    Cheers
     

    irene.acler

    Senior Member
    Italiano
    In Italian, either options are acceptable:

    due più due fa quattro
    due più due fanno quattro.

    Notice that we use the verb "fare" (literally = to do) and not "essere" (= to be).
    As far as I'm concerned, I prefer to use the singular form of the verb, but you can find both versions.
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    In Portuguese also, both versions are used:

    dois mais dois é quatro
    dois mais dois são quatro

    We do use the verb "to be".
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    In German:
    2 + 2 = (ist: Singular) 4
    zwei plus zwei ist/macht/ist gleich vier
    That's what we were taught at school, but it is also possible to use the plural. The singular, however, is more common for longer (more complicated) calculations.

    Anyway, we should point out that we are taught to use ist gleich (= is equal to) or macht (= makes) for the equal sign. But you wouldn't use the verb machen for inequality, for which we say ist ungleich (= is inequal to) or ist nicht (= is not).
     
    I would say "is", or more often "makes 4" or "equals 4"... But always as a second person conjugation, not third person. But I'd hardly be shocked that some folk do say it that way. Thinking about it, I guess it makes sense that it be plural though. Two and two are four. They are four. Not they is four.

    Maybe I've been saying it wrong all these years. It's entirely possible.
     

    Lemminkäinen

    Senior Member
    Norwegian (bokmål)
    In Russian, you say два плюс два - четыре (dva plyus dba - chetyre), as the present form of 'to be' is not written. I'm curious of what they'd say in the future or the past, though (theoretically, as it's sort of a basic truth ;) ).
     

    jonquiliser

    Senior Member
    Svediż tal-Finlandja
    I would say "is", or more often "makes 4" or "equals 4"... But always as a second person conjugation, not third person. But I'd hardly be shocked that some folk do say it that way. Thinking about it, I guess it makes sense that it be plural though. Two and two are four. They are four. Not they is four.
    But maybe in "two and two equals four" the subject is "two and two" (not "two" and "two") so then singular..? And in "two and two is four" the two twoes really are two separate subjects? Could that be? (I don't really have any clue, I guessing only).
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    But maybe in "two and two equals four" the subject is "two and two" (not "two" and "two") so then singular..?
    Or maybe it's "four"... ;)


    The verb in this sentence is a copula, so I think that in principle each of its two arguments has equal claim to being the subject.
     

    StefKE

    Senior Member
    French - Belgium
    In French, we say Deux plus/et deux font quatre which litteraly means Two plus/and two make four. So, the verb is in the plural form.

    But, Deux plus deux ça fait quatre (Two plus two that makes four) can also be acceptable. Here the verb is in the singular form.
     

    cyanista

    законодательница мод
    NRW
    Belarusian/Russian
    In Russian, you say два плюс два - четыре (dva plyus dba - chetyre), as the present form of 'to be' is not written. I'm curious of what they'd say in the future or the past, though (theoretically, as it's sort of a basic truth ;) ).
    I'm having a hard time with the available poll options - it's either "option one" or "neither of the above".:)

    Lemminkäinen's translation is absolutely correct. Such sentences don't normally have or need a verb in the present tense. ("Two plus two - four.") Even if we used есть it wouldn't help us much as it's unchangeable. In the past or future we would use the singular, though.

    Another alternative would be два плюс два равняется четыре (two plus two equals four). Here it's as clear as daylight - the verb is in the singular. :)


    By the way, Lemmi, два плюс два будет четыре (two plus two will be four) and the like are actually used in colloquial speech. If someone is slowly adding things up and thinking aloud they would be likely to say "A plus B will be... C... no, wait!.. D".:)
     

    tom_in_bahia

    Senior Member
    South Florida/Phoenix-Tucson/the Adirondacks. Native of North American English
    I think I've heard "two plus two are four", but to me, a number is a singular item (hence "a number"). However, the equation, in the mind of (most?) native English speakers, must be a singular concept as well.
     

    cyanista

    законодательница мод
    NRW
    Belarusian/Russian
    If you language has zero copula in this kind of sentence, you should pick option four.
    But in doing so I would disregard the "singular-oriented" logic that is indisputably present in "my" language, wouldn't I? :(
     

    ryuusaki

    Member
    English & Chinese
    Chinese:
    2加2等於4
    We say 等於(equal).

    2加2是4
    是 kind of means is/are (there is no plural form in chinese)

    It is also a possible way to say it, but people use "equal" more.
     

    linguist786

    Senior Member
    English, Gujarati & Urdu
    In Gujarati, you don't use anything!

    "be ane be chaar" (lit: two and two, four)

    I'm not 100% on this, since I wasn't taught maths in Gujarati, but my parents were. When they count, that is what they say. I assume it's the same in Hindi/Urdu, but I can't be sure.

    (To be honest, I never count in Gujarati - my mind works about three times faster in English!)
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    I don't follow you. Do you think you could explain better what happens in Russian?
    See it like this:

    2 + 2 = 4 would be two plus two four in Russian. So, there's no copula (which is very normal in some languages) in the present tense. If you were to say 2 + 2 = ... 5, hm no, 4! in Russian, a copula would be used (the copula exists, but is normally not used), because it works like a filler word.

    This can be proved if you used the future in Russian (I think it works the same in Arabic): two plus two will most likely be four, but I can ask my calculator. So, you would use the singular for will be.
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Thank you for the explanation. I now see that Cyanista had alluded previously to the use of the singular with other tenses:

    In the past or future we would use the singular, though.
    You can choose the option with "is", then.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Arabic is like Russian: either "equals" (singular - never plural) or zero copula (less common). I don't know whether to vote for option 1 or option 4.

    As I was not ever taught math in Arabic I cannot answer your follow-up questions. However, I assume that what people say coincides with what they've been taught to say.
     

    Frank06

    Senior Member
    Nederlands / Dutch (Belgium)
    Hi,

    In Dutch it's
    twee plus twee is vier (singular)
    twee plus twee is gelijk aan vier (singular, lit. is equal to)

    Also:
    twee appels plus twee appels is gelijk aan vier appels.

    Groetjes,

    Frank
     

    cyanista

    законодательница мод
    NRW
    Belarusian/Russian
    See it like this:

    2 + 2 = 4 would be two plus two four in Russian. So, there's no copula (which is very normal in some languages) in the present tense. If you were to say 2 + 2 = ... 5, hm no, 4! in Russian, a copula would be used (the copula exists, but is normally not used), because it works like a filler word.
    Just to make it clear: the present tense copula есть would not be used under any circumstances. The future tense copula будет could be used colloquially when someone doesn't have the answer straightaway (see my previous post). In a more official setting you would always use равно/равняется.
    But in what gender? I'd guess you'd use the neuter singular past tense of 'to be': было. Is that correct?
    Yep. That is, if anyone would ever need to say it.
    В былые времена, когда два плюс два еще было четыре. (In times long gone, when two plus two still used to be four). :)
     

    OldAvatar

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    In Italian, either options are acceptable:

    due più due fa quattro
    due più due fanno quattro.

    Notice that we use the verb "fare" (literally = to do) and not "essere" (= to be).
    Similar in Romanian.
    due più due fa quattro = doi plus doi fac patru

    fac
    , from verb a face, facere (literally = to do, to make).

    Best regards
     

    Jana337

    Senior Member
    čeština
    I too have a hard time choosing an option.

    In Czech, it depends on the number after =.
    If you say "two/three/four men are ..-", it translates - logically - to "number + men + are ...".
    But if the number is five and more (but not 22-24, 32-34 etc. in standard Czech), you get a genitive construction with a singular verb (no kidding!): "Pět mužů je ..." - "Five of men is ..." In the past tense where gender matters, the verb is always neutral. More.


    So:
    1 + 1 = 2 - jedna plus jedna jsou (are) dvě
    1 + 2 = 3 - jedna plus dvě jsou (are) tři
    2 + 2 = 4 - dvě plus dvě jsou (are) čtyři
    2 + 3 = 5 - dvě plus tři je (is) pět
    2 + 4 = 6 - dvě plus čtyři je (is) šest

    Colloquially, some people would say "je" also for 2, 3, 4.
    Then there's a way out: is equal, which translates to "rovná se", a singular verb regardless of numbers involved.
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    I hadn't anticipated that situation. I guess Czech will have to be left out of this poll, Jana.
     

    betulina

    Senior Member
    català - Catalunya
    In Catalan we use the plural form:

    Dos més (or rather i) dos són quatre, or also with verb "to make": fer, like Italian, Romanian and French - dos i dos fan quatre (plural, too)

    The singular sounds very odd. You are very likely to hear it without a verb, though:

    Dos i dos, quatre.
     

    Abu Bishr

    Senior Member
    Afrikaans, South Africa
    Hi,

    In Dutch it's
    twee plus twee is vier (singular)
    twee plus twee is gelijk aan vier (singular, lit. is equal to)

    Also:
    twee appels plus twee appels is gelijk aan vier appels.

    Groetjes,

    Frank
    In Afrikaans it's exactly the same except that "gelijk" is spelt "gelyk". For a moment I thought I was reading Afrikaans :D.
     

    apmoy70

    Senior Member
    Greek
    Greek:

    In formal language 2 + 2 «ίσον» [ˈison] (neut.) 4 --> equal sign (sing.)

    Colloquially we may equally use «κάνει» [ˈkani] (3rd p. sing. present indicative) --> it makes but also «κάνουν» [ˈkanun] (3rd p. pl. present indicative) --> they make
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    Whether I use the verb "to be" or "to make", in both Catalan and Spanish, I'd definitely use the plural form. Specially if I use the "two and two" formula instead of the "two plus two". This is probably due to the fact of seeing it as a subject made of two elements. Like when you say "John and Mary", "the book and the pencil", etc.
     

    ilocas2

    Banned
    Czech
    In Serbian/Bosnian/Croatian both are used in this case.

    Dva i dva je četiri. (Two and two is four.)
    Dva plus dva je četiri. (Two plus two is four.)
    Dva i dva su četiri. (Two and two are four.)
    Dva plus dva su četiri. (Two plus two are four.)
     
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