If you know 2 people are doing the dishes, can you say "who are doing the dishes?" or would it always be "who is?"

  • 1
    You could bypass the issue by asking “The dishes are being done by whom?“ – John Meacham Oct 22 '16 at 4:44

It's an inconsistency in the language that both "Mary is doing the dishes" and "Mary and John are doing the dishes" become "Who is doing the dishes?" I presume this is because the person asking is nearly always completely ignorant of the answer (the number of people doing the dishes; his, her, or their names). To a native, "who are" sounds wrong.

On the other hand, if you know two or more people are doing the dishes, but you don't know which two, you could ask, "Which people are doing the dishes?" In this case you are requesting someone specify / add information.

  • This answer is correct for the USA. I wonder whether it's also correct in England or other places. – phoog Oct 22 '16 at 4:05
  • Sounds good to me (UK). – Mick Oct 22 '16 at 4:07
  • Ditto for me (also UK). – flith Oct 25 '16 at 4:13

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