Bread and butter (is or are) my breakfast?

And what's the difference between the above sentence and saying "My breakfast is bread and butter"?



3 Answers 3


Bread and butter can be singular or plural, depending on context.

In British English and various European languages (i.e. German Butterbrot, Russian Бутерброд), "bread and butter" is a set phrase meaning "an open-face sandwich".
This phrase is not common in American English; we would regard "bread and butter" as referring to two separate items and therefore plural.

In any case, it's odd to say that something "is my breakfast" if I am in the very act of eating it; it may be a grammatically valid sentence, but no native speaker would say it (unless - as @PeteKirkham pointed out - s/he had a bread-and-butter fetish!) It would be more natural to say "I'm having bread and butter" if I'm eating it right now; "I had bread and butter for breakfast" if I'm speaking of some time in the past, or "bread and butter is my usual breakfast" if I eat it regularly.

Bread and butter is also an idiomatic phrase.

  • As a noun, it means "a dependable source of income": "Fixing flat tires is my bread and butter."
  • As a hyphenated adjective, it means "basic or essential": "Job creation is the Senator's bread-and-butter issue."
  • 2
    Also the reverse-order "... is my breakfast" is also an idiom, so the whole sentence means "I find basic things sexually attractive" Commented Sep 24, 2014 at 23:14

I think, when bread and butter is used as a single food, verb must be singular. But in the separate things , verb must be plural. For example, bread and butter are purchased from the grocery shops. Here verb is plural , not singular.

  • 2
    How is your answer different from the one posted by MT_Head?
    – user140086
    Commented Jun 12, 2016 at 19:33

It should be

Bread and butter is my breakfast.

It is a reverse-order sentence. The subject of the sentence is breakfast, which is singular and therefore the verb should also be singular.

There is no significant difference in meaning between "bread and butter is my breakfast" and "my breakfast is bread and butter." Writers often use reverse-order sentences to liven up their prose - nothing wrong with that, provided it doesn't obscure the meaning.

  • Oh, come on. By this logic, "Eggs is my breakfast" would be valid. The OP's question boils down to whether "bread and butter" is singular or plural; the fact that "breakfast" is clearly singular is irrelevant.
    – MT_Head
    Commented Sep 24, 2014 at 21:49
  • I interpreted the OP's question as being concerned with a grammatical principle rather than the specifics of bread and butter. It looked like an inverted sentence and on that basis "eggs is my breakfast" would be correct (albeit very awkward). However, if you don't agree with the initial premise that it's an inverted sentence then obviously the conclusion that follows will seem wrong.
    – Frank H.
    Commented Sep 25, 2014 at 1:00

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