LucidityofPower posted Q1 (below) which was closed as a duplicate of Q2.

Q1. Is this sentence grammatical: “all there is, are idiolects?” [duplicate]

Q2. “The thing is, is that…”

Q2 is an example of the double copula, but as my answer to Q1 argues, apart from an extraneous comma, the quoted phrase in Q1 doesn't contain a double copula. (Note: there is also a possible issue with singular / plural agreement, but that's not addressed by Q2 either.)

I've proposed reopening the question, but so far there are only 3 votes to reopen. Is Q1 really a duplicate of Q2? If not, could I please request that more people vote to reopen the question?

A separate issue is whether the question is a low-quality question. I don't think it is, though I also invite replies about this. The is/are collocation is quite interesting, as is the issue about whether noun phrase admits both singular and plural agreement depending on context.

  • Thanks @Rathony. There were 3 reopen votes (dated 3 Feb) when I last looked earlier today.
    – Lawrence
    Feb 17, 2016 at 3:55
  • I see. I am not 100% sure how it works, but close and reopen votes are cancelled automatically after a certain period of time.
    – user140086
    Feb 17, 2016 at 3:57
  • @Rathony Yes, I was just going to comment about that. I took another look at the question - the votes have been cleared, and I can't vote again on this question until the end of the month. Thanks again for voting to reopen. :)
    – Lawrence
    Feb 17, 2016 at 3:59
  • Sorry, but I can't vote again for the same reason. The thing is the question started from misunderstanding of copula and the poster doesn't seem to understand the two different meanings of the verb be. Even if the question is not a dupe, I think it is borderline on-topic.
    – user140086
    Feb 17, 2016 at 4:02
  • Well, the original poster seems to think the question is a duplicate, as it was closed by "Community." I agree with you that they actually seem slightly different, though.
    – herisson
    Feb 17, 2016 at 4:06
  • @sumelic Can the OP (who doesn't have more than 3,000 rep points) close their own question? I mean like this one.
    – user140086
    Feb 17, 2016 at 4:54
  • @Rathony: yes, if someone else has suggested a duplicate post. That is what it means when the "Community" user is listed as one of the close voters: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/250981/…
    – herisson
    Feb 17, 2016 at 4:55
  • @Rathony The OP's edits changed the sense of the question significantly, from plurality to double copula. It's my own fault for answering a question that at the time showed no research, but the question seemed interesting to me. Given the time and effort invested by both the OP and me, I'm disappointed that the question was closed, especially if it turns out to be by the OP. At least it's not (yet) been deleted.
    – Lawrence
    Feb 17, 2016 at 7:21
  • @sumelic Thanks for your comments. Do you have any comments about what I wrote on the plurality of "all that is"?
    – Lawrence
    Feb 17, 2016 at 7:28

2 Answers 2


I suggest those Questions are not at all duplicates, but they do happen to share almost identical Answers… and that the same thing will crop up frequently

What would be wrong with a standard mechanism/procedure/wording for dealing with exactly that:

Why not use boiler-plate wording acknowledging exactly that?

"Although these are/seem to be different Questions, in fact they lead to the same Answer: (link)"?

I would suggest first running that through a review process but I wouldn't insist.

  • Thank you for your insightful observation. When answering "Is ___ a [something]?", filling the blank with a positive or negative case can elicit the same theory with different applications. In this case, there is some asymmetry in the focus of the questions. I'll wait with interest to see how others interact with your answer.
    – Lawrence
    Apr 4, 2022 at 18:15

I usually just rubber-stamp appeals on meta to reopen questions, but in this case I just thought it through and decided it wouldn't be appropriate.

The thing is expressions like There is... and It's [just] that... are effectively "syntactically complete" in and of themselves - so they don't necessarily force syntactic changes in associated text. From my perspective, that means you can introduce your "executive summary" by saying What it is regardless of whether "it" is singular or plural, or whether the actual text of "the thing" starts with is.

  • Sorry, you lost me. The phrase being analysed is "all that is are idiolects", which doesn't start with is. By "executive summary", are you referring to my answer's first section which rephrases of Lucidity's question? I don't understand your answer but would like to.
    – Lawrence
    Feb 23, 2016 at 8:47
  • I thought at the time my choice of pronouns might be a bit confusing. Perhaps I should have gone with that means one can introduce an "executive summary". What I meant was you can say things like There's three beers in the fridge without (most) people bothering about any lack of "syntactic agreement". And personally, I can even cope with Now all that is are the ruins of looted boxes and empty shelves. These "set forms" become kinda detached from their notional "plurality" for many speakers. Feb 23, 2016 at 13:11
  • Ah, that makes more sense now. Yes, I agree that "there's three beers" is easily understandable. I was trying to answer Lucidity's question from a formally-correct 'standard' English perspective, though. I suppose the main sticking point for me with this meta post is that Lucidity's question isn't the duplicate it claims to be. The purported duplicates are double copulas while Lucidity's isn't.
    – Lawrence
    Feb 23, 2016 at 14:59
  • I should perhaps point out that I don't feel very strongly about this particular case. And I do recognize that the current answers on the preserved dup question aren't as comprehensive as yours on the closed question. I still think they're essentially about "the same thing", but I might have felt more comfortable with my position if the closevoting had gone the other way around! Feb 23, 2016 at 18:19

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