Should one use "the mechanics of the mind are" or "the mechanics of the mind is?

  • The term "mechanics", used in this sense, seems to be an uncountable noun.
  • The trouble with this is conceptual. 'Mechanics' is to do with machinery. The mind is organic and spiritual. 'The mentality of the mind' is how I, personally express the concept. And then I have no trouble, for it is singular. 'The mentaltiy of the mind is ...'.
    – Nigel J
    Mar 9, 2018 at 2:03
  • @NigelJ This expression infers a meaning of "how the mind works". Mar 9, 2018 at 2:22
  • Countable or not, it’s a plural concept (like inner workings, or underlying rules, or …) so are is appropriate. Substitute mechanisms if that reads more comfortably for you. Mar 9, 2018 at 4:57
  • @WillCrawford Could you put that in an answer? That helped me, thanks. I'll upvote it as well as mark it as the right answer when you do so. Mar 9, 2018 at 5:16
  • 1
    He really doesn't ... Mar 9, 2018 at 12:02

1 Answer 1


The meaning of the mechanics is something like

The sum of [the rules governing] the behaviour of the inner workings of

which, as you say, isn’t exactly countable but it’s a plural concept — each internal behaviour is a mechanic. Other ways to say the same thing are, e.g., inner workings or underlying rules, or …

Depending a little on what you’re trying to articulate you may find substituting mechanisms makes it sound better (and doing so as a “thought exercise” might help make the plurality more obvious).

Other examples that might help are: metabolism (singular) versus metabolic pathways (plural); skeleton versus bones; wood versus trees.

The actual answer to your question is left as an exercise to the reader.

[There's another example: exercises versus exercise régime]

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