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The Canadian children's network, Treehouse is in the process of replacing the show "This is Emily Yeung" with "This is Scarlett and Isaiah".

That doesn't actually sound wrong, but would it be more correct to say "These are Scarlett and Isaiah"? That would definitely be the case if you were to elaborate "These are my siblings Scarlett and Isaiah". What rule applies here?

  • You'd use these if you were referring to something plural. These are the Joneses and the Smiths. These are fruits and vegetables. This is breakfast and lunch. This sounds wrong: `These are Scarlett and Isaiah. – dcaswell Sep 7 '13 at 1:45
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    There is no reason to put "so" at the beginning of your initial sentence. The current fad of starting speech with "so" is something that must be opposed, in my opinion, and when it starts invading written language, its pointlessness is even more obvious. – John M. Landsberg Sep 7 '13 at 5:18
  • @John Agreed. This question was written in haste while I was being pressured to go do something more important. – mootinator Sep 7 '13 at 6:14
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A compound subject can be singular or plural depending on what you mean. Penn and Teller is a magic act. Penn and Teller are the actors. In your context you will have to determine for yourself which is more apt, singular or plural.

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I have to disagree with posters above who suggest that this is a matter of preference. "This is Scarlett and Isaiah" only makes sense for the name of a show because it is a title. As in, "This is All the King's Men." Which would be different than saying, "All the king's men are soldiers at heart."

Even if it sounds odd to the ear, one should be introducing multiple friends with the verb are. As in, "These are [my friends] Fred, Kerry, Joan, Dan, and Ryan."

The rule for compound subjects is that when the subjects are joined by “and,” the verb agrees with the pronoun “they.” This is not the case if the subjects are joined by "or," "neither," or "nor."

In sum:

Title of a show: "This is Scarlett and Isaiah!"

Introducing friends: "These are Scarlett and Isaiah."

Using "or" as a coordinating conjunction: "This is either Scarlett or Isaiah on the phone."

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For the purpose of the show I like this is. Basically "This is Scarlett and Isaiah" is the short version for "This is Scarlett and This is Isaiah". It is stressing the singular characters on the show. "These are" would work if something was plural. I would treat this the same if you were introducing a group of friends - This is Fred, Kerry, Joan, Dan, and Ryan. Again "these are" doesn't make sense here too and it is just shortening using this is before each name.

  • I think I like the explanation that it's not incorrect to imply two individuals are part of a singular group "This is Scarlett and Isaiah" (the new team!) as opposed to "These are two distinct individuals". +1 for pointing out why you don't really hear "These are" used to introduce people in conversational English. – mootinator Sep 7 '13 at 6:31
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If you are introducing the people, not the show title itself, "These are" would be the correct term

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The formula works because it is the name of a TV show, it is not an informal or formal introduction.

This is [the] Scarlett and Isaiah [show].

In other words, the show is with Scarlett and Isaiah; the show is presented by ... and ...

Alternatively, one could say “The Show hosts are Scarlett and Isaiah”

But that's not the name of the TV show.

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