Can you please help me understand this?

DANIELLE: Mom, what's going on?
BREE: Oh, I'm throwing you out. I've separated all your things into two sides. One of them is yours, Danielle, and the other one is Andrew's.
ANDREW: Okay, you've lost it.
DANIELLE: Where are we supposed to live?
BREE: Darned if I know. Danielle, everything in the north quadrant of your side is clothes and books and such, and the south side are miscellaneous items.

What I don't get is, why does the mother say "your side IS clotheS and bookS..." and then adds "the south side ARE miscellaneous itemS"

Source: Desperate Housewives, season 1, episode 7
Thanks for your help :)

  • 1
    You need to say where you found this excerpt. If possible, also include a link, and then users can begin saying why the mother switches from "is" to "are".
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 25, 2017 at 9:18
  • Desperate housewives s01e07. ("Anything You Can Do") from 25 min 12 sec putlockers.sc/…
    – Mate
    Jul 25, 2017 at 9:41
  • I didn't add the link because when I clicked on the show's title I was taken to a spammy, malicious site. And the resulting tab was quite difficult to close. I would search for a safer source if I were you.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 25, 2017 at 10:30
  • I found the transcript, the site appears to be safe, at least there are no nasty surprises if you click on a link. Didn't check everything out though.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 25, 2017 at 10:39
  • Considering how well-articulated and careful a speaker Bree Van de Kamp is normally portrayed as being, this is actually a bit surprising to me. Both singular and plural is quite frequently found in natural speech in constructions like these where the subject is singular and its predicative complement is plural, but in more formal registers the singular is prescribed, and I would have expected someone like Bree not to stray from the prescriptive norm here. If she had said, “on the south side are miscellaneous items”, that would be different, but looking at the video, it’s clear she doesn’t. Jul 25, 2017 at 11:01

2 Answers 2


The use of "is" in "everything in the north quadrant of your side is clothes and books and such" is certainly correct, because the subject here is "everything", which takes singular verb agreement.

It's harder to say what is going on with "...and the south side are miscellaneous items." When speaking, people often leave out words or change the structure of what they're saying in the middle of a sentence. It's possible that this should be understood as something like "and [the things on] the south side are miscellaneous items". Or, as mentioned in the comments, it could just be a slip of the tongue caused by the plurality of the predicative complement "miscellaneous items".


Linguistically, "Planning, printing, and wearing shirts" may resemble a plural subject. In any case, it's unmistakably a particular subject semantically. You signify "The entire experience of doing X, Y, and Z" and not "the three separate encounters of doing X, doing Y, and doing Z."

Elaborately, we are permitted to regard linguistically plural mixes as singulars on the off chance that we need to underscore their solidarity. Semantic contemplation's have the same amount of weight in choices about verb number as linguistic number does.

  • Although this answer is certainly legitimate, I must warn you not to include commercial links in future answers. This site regards them as spam and will bar you from further posting if you persist in including them. Thank you!
    – Sven Yargs
    Jul 8, 2018 at 23:24

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