1. In sentences like "Two questions are what I wanted to ask", should I treat the subject, "Two questions", as singular or plural?

    It seems more natural to treat it as plural. But when I reverse the subjects I'll need to use the singular form instead : "What I wanted to ask is two questions" and this doesn't look very natural.

  2. Does the same apply to chronological sentences like "5 months is/are what I have left to finish this project of mine"?

  • 2
    While correct, "I wanted to ask two questions" and "I have 5 months left" are more common constructs (also you need to include "have" in the second one.) – Zibbobz Oct 7 '13 at 15:08
  • Clauses are singular by default, and the verb agrees with the subject. QED. So you're right to follow what sounds right. If it sounds good, it is good. – John Lawler Oct 7 '13 at 15:09
  • 1
    @alkenrinnstet: I can't see why you think they're different. If I order three pints of beer in a pub, and the barman only brings me two, I'll say "Three beers is what I asked for." It's difficult to find a credible real-world context for OP's version (for most purposes, it just looks like something only a non-native speaker would say). But I suppose if you were at a meeting where the general principle was "each attendee may only ask one question", you might just about be able to say "Two questions is what I wanted to ask - but in the circumstances, I'll ask Why only one?" – FumbleFingers Oct 7 '13 at 16:16
  • 1
    Why are answers being provided as comments? I understood this was inappropriate. – GreaseMonkey Oct 7 '13 at 16:18
  • 1
    @Mark Thorin: Each thread should address only one question. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 7 '13 at 17:22

I feel "two questions" as a whole (an unity, not as separate parts).

I would say "Two beers and some chips is what I ordered".

or "One hundred soldiers and two canons was just what the captain had to defend the fort".

  • Not even a single archdeacon? – Edwin Ashworth Oct 7 '13 at 17:13

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.