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Are both is equal to and equals similar in meaning? Which is the more natural?

For example, one plus one equals two or one plus one is equal to two.

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You can also add "is" to the list. –  skullpatrol Sep 7 '12 at 9:38
@skullpatrol: I agree with the answers and comments that say that “equals” and “is equal to” mean the same thing in most situations; always, in strictly mathematical contexts. Based on my understanding of English, I submit that “is” carries a slightly different connotation and nuance. (“It depends on what the meaning of the word `is’ is.”) For example, Superman is Clark Kent, but I wouldn’t say that they are equal. –  Scott Feb 12 '13 at 2:28
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closed as general reference by FumbleFingers, tchrist, Mahnax, kiamlaluno, Daniel Jun 27 '12 at 23:01

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

2 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Both are grammatically correct and mean the same. And both are the natural ways of saying it. Use any.

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Equals is equal being a verb, in the present tense. Is equal to is equal being a predicate adjective, with its auxiliary verb in the present tense. English is full of pairs like this, useful if one needs an extra syllable. As @Slkdfj Jfjf succinctly puts it, Use any. –  John Lawler Jun 16 '12 at 16:18
@JohnLawler Could you please look at this question? –  skullpatrol Sep 7 '12 at 11:29
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"1+3=4" may be read "one plus three equals four" or "one plus three is equal to four". Both are correct, and commonly heard.

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However, for "1+3 < 10" we can say "one plus three is less than ten" but not "one plus three lesses ten". –  GEdgar Jun 16 '12 at 13:19
Re "one plus three equals four" or "one plus three is equal to four" being commonly heard, I'm fairly sure I've never heard anybody say either of those phrases, and doubt I ever will. Why would anyone bother stating such a trivial sum? –  jwpat7 Jun 16 '12 at 18:42
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