Which of these sentences is correct?

  1. Here are Mrs. Johnson and her husband.
  2. Here is Mrs. Johnson and her husband.

Both are listed as correct in an English textbook - but is that really the truth?

EDIT: Thanks a lot for the quick replies — it's much appreciated. I'm not a native speaker but when I hear: "Here are Mrs. Johnson and her husband" it just sounds wrong. Doesn't it sound a lot better with "Here is Mrs. Johnson"?


5 Answers 5


In comments, Clare wrote:

"And the two shall become one flesh." is is fine if you consider the husband and wife to be so closely related as to be a singular subject; otherwise are is okay.

There is also the issue of the normal contracted forms here's, there's, that's, which are often used for more than one thing: here's a wallet, a ring, and a button. So saying Here's Mrs J and her husband is also natural.


In a comment, user2909415 wrote:

Both are grammatically correct. In the first sentence, 'and' is being used to compound two singular subjects into one plural subject; while in the second sentence, 'and' serves to compound two clauses together, but in this particular case we imply a second 'here is' after the 'and' to properly structure the second clause.


Here are Mrs. Johnson and her husband.

Here is Mrs. Johnson and (here is) her husband.

'Are' is used for plurals: 'Mrs. Johnson and her husband' (two people).

'Is' is used for singles - ' Mrs. Johnson' (one person) and then, again, for 'her husband' (one person).


In a comment, Lawrence wrote:

Conventional wisdom says that you'd use the singular If you treat the group as a single unit. Nevertheless, using the singular for Mr & Mrs sounds odd to me. In your example, though, you can choose to present Mrs Johnson (singular) and note the presence of her husband, or to present both (plural). The sentence allows either interpretation, so both are grammatically sound.


In a comment, BillJ wrote:

The subject is a joint coordination of Mrs Johnson and her husband so a plural verb is required (cf. the ungrammatical *Mrs Johnson and her husband is here). Singular agreement is found, though, in informal style, especially with reduced is, as in Here's Mrs. Johnson and her husband.

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