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I’m a bit confused about the use of “that is” to add explanatory info about what is being talked. Also, can I also use it when the noun deserving explanation is plural? Here an example:

Encircling the town were military stations of “changers”, that is men hired by the government to make sure that all inhabitants obeyed the rules.

Is this sentence correct? Also, in this case the noun that requires explanation “changers” is plural, yet I suppose I don’t have to write “that are” instead of “that is” nor do I have to use the past tense and write "that were" or "that was".

Thank you

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  • that is is another way to say: u=i.e., or id est.
    – Lambie
    Jul 4, 2023 at 18:30

2 Answers 2

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'that is' means 'in other words'. If you put a comma after 'that is', it becomes like an extra phrase in the sentence, so it doesn't matter whether the noun following is singular or plural.

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  • Here's a link to a dictionary entry that would strengthen your answer: that is (or that is to say).
    – Lawrence
    Sep 17, 2017 at 12:01
  • Yeah, there should be a comma after "is".
    – Hot Licks
    Sep 17, 2017 at 13:03
  • Ok, then assuming that I put a comma after "that is" in the sentence I wrote, it would still be wrong because I don't want to explain something "in other words", I just want to explain it from scratch. It’s the first time I mention the term “changer” so the reader doesn’t have any idea what or who a “changer” is. Can I still use the expression “that is” or “in other words” in this specific case? thanks
    – Fra
    Sep 17, 2017 at 14:45
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    Yes. "In other words" means "this is what that word means", not "this is another way of explaining it". Sep 17, 2017 at 15:31
  • Kate Bunting "In other words," means both. Here is a definition of 'in other words' - 'expressed in a different way' - because when you are trying to explain the meaning of something, you need to express it in another way. Oct 5, 2017 at 22:56
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If the second part of the sentence is supposed to be providing a definition of "changers", there are two options:

Encircling the town were military stations of “changers”, which are men hired by the government to make sure that all inhabitants obeyed the rules.

Encircling the town were military stations of “changers”, that is, men hired by the government to make sure that all inhabitants obeyed the rules.

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    Jul 4, 2023 at 17:26

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