1

In sentences like "All he can think of is this moment," all is taking singular is. However, in sentences where there is more than one subject, does all still take singular is?

  1. All he can hear is the wind, the sound of the rain, and the thunder.

  2. All that's present at the end of the hall is the storage and another room.

Do both these sentences take "all...is"? Could this be explained with a grammatical rule? In these sentences, is all referring back to predicate nominatives?

  • 2
    Similar, I think: “When all you hear is fear and lies” – sumelic May 11 '17 at 5:47
  • Yes, "be" is used in its specifying sense here, and the complement specifies the value of the variable defined in the subject "all". Constructions like this are very similar in meaning to pseudo-clefts, cf. "All he can hear is the wind, the sound of the rain, and the thunder" ~ "What he can hear is the wind, the sound of the rain, and the thunder". Singular agreement is normal. – BillJ May 11 '17 at 6:47
  • So, in pseudo-cleft sentences with "all," where there are more than one emphasized elements in the second part of the sentence, singular agreement is always preferable? As opposed to a sentence like this: All she saw in the sky were stars. But, All I can remember is her face, the smile of the child, and the warm sun of the summer. ? – user234028 May 11 '17 at 17:13
  • Possible duplicate of "When all you hear is fear and lies" – NVZ May 12 '17 at 11:23
  • @skywardhope: Even when the elements are plural, you have a choice. Edna St. Vincent Millay: All I could see from where I stood // Was three long mountains and a wood. – Peter Shor Aug 6 '17 at 22:42

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