"Today is [(pro)noun] [gerund]"

Context: Some time ago, my friend and I were messaging each other and then I used this construction. He immediately said that my sentence should've been "Today [(pro)noun] is [present participle]". I replied saying that that construction changes the meaning I originally intended. I said that "Today" should be the subject, not the adverb. Then there was a back and forth of arguments. I then made up an instance in restaurant where there will be a guest singer. A manager says "Today is Madonna singing". That didn't work either. I then told him to think of it like a list (yesterday was x x-ing, today is x x-ing, tomorrow will be x x-ing). I told him to also think of "Madonna singing" as a noun phrase, not noun + verb. He asked some of his friends too and none of them have heard of this construction.

So, is this construction something that exists or is it something I made up? I don't think I made it up because I have a definite feeling I picked it up from somewhere and I have kept it because I think it's correct.

Edit 1: Another example I thought of is "Tomorrow will be him doing it" (which seems correct to me).

Edit 2: Thanks to everyone that answered! (I am not going to put the tick mark on anyone because many people helped; putting it on only one person would be unfair).

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    In Today is Madonna singing, the verb (is) sets up an equivalence. Another example would be Madonna is a singer*. That latter makes sense, but today is a day and Madonna singing is an activity. There's no equivalence, so your sentence makes no sense. You may mean Today Madonna is singing. Now the verb is is singing, which describes the activity that Madonna is doing.
    – deadrat
    Mar 15, 2017 at 6:51
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    It's certainly not a contraction, which would require an apostrophe to indicate the missing letters. Idiomatically, you'd say Today is the day that Madonna sings. Your version runs into the wall of English sentence construction that has "Subject Copulative-Verb Predicate-Complement*. Hard to climb over that.
    – deadrat
    Mar 15, 2017 at 7:16
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    “Tomorrow will be him doing it” and “Today is Madonna singing” can possibly work if you set up a very, very specific context—but as general sentences with no further context, they are meaningless and don't make sense. Mar 15, 2017 at 7:59
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    These are sentence fragments. But they're even more problematic than more common ones ('Please!' / 'On the table.' / ...) 'Sentence' can be used as an attributive as they can convey a complete thought (but they're not sentences, hence 'fragment/s). As others have stated, context governs acceptability; "Today is Madonna singing." is fine in informal conversation after say "There are quite a few things I want to see on TV this week –". "Today[,] it's Madonna singing." and "Today ... Madonna singing." are alternatives. But in isolation and/or in formal communication, inappropriate. Mar 15, 2017 at 11:24
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    "Today is Madonna singing" is OK. "Madonna singing" is a noun phrase as subject complement of "be" in its specifying sense. "Madonna" is head of the NP, and "singing" is a non-finite clause modifying "Madonna". (cf. "Today is Madonna who is singing ...")
    – BillJ
    Mar 15, 2017 at 13:29

1 Answer 1


A way to look at your question is to consider that the gerund functions as a noun (or a noun group).

Today is [Madonna singing] => Today is [the day when Madonna is singing]

Said otherwise, Madonna's concert is today. I do not see any particular violations in your turn of phrase. It's a matter of taste and ultimately your freedom to express yourself as you see fit, within the grammatical boundaries of the language.

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