mailing list For webmasters
Welcome Guest
Who is/are eating? Options
Koh Elaine
Posted: Saturday, October 23, 2021 10:00:59 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/4/2012
Posts: 7,501
Neurons: 32,692
Suppose five people are eating? Which is the correct question?

Who is eating? or Who are eating?

Thanks
tautophile
Posted: Saturday, October 23, 2021 11:30:35 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/14/2018
Posts: 2,031
Neurons: 50,666
Neither. Of your alternatives, Koh Elaine, the first one ("Who is eating?") is better than the second one ("Who are eating?") But neither is really "good" or "correct".

I presume the question you're trying to ask is: "Who are the people [who are] eating?" Very well, but be careful about using that sentence: if you leave out the second "who are" and say "Who are the people eating?", some folks would think you're asking about those who are being cannibalized by the people. Thus "Who are the people that are eating?" would be better.

It might be a good idea to express your question in a bit more detail. Perhaps what you really want to know is: "Who are the five people [that are] eating supper at that table?" Saying "that are" avoids a potentially confusing repetition of "who are" in that sentence. "Who" can be either an interrogative, as in "Who are you?", or a relative pronoun, as in "the man who broke the bank in Monte Carlo". Sometimes both uses of "who" can appear in the same sentence but not be confusing, as in "Who is the man who broke the bank in Monte Carlo?", but in that case, the two uses of "who" are followed by different verbs: the first is followed by "is" and the second by "broke".

When you ask "Who are the people that are eating?", what exactly do you mean by "who"? Are you asking for their names? Their relationship(s)? Some other way(s) of identifying them for the purposes of the narrative?

Am I making any sense?


Wilmar (USA) 1M
Posted: Sunday, October 24, 2021 7:57:36 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/4/2015
Posts: 6,382
Neurons: 1,384,473
Location: Vinton, Iowa, United States
TFD makes the point that the word is used for both singular and plural situations.
1. what person or persons?: Who is he?



Who is he? Who are they? Who is in the lobby? Who is sitting at table 3? Who are those outlandish people?!

But, as tautophile describes, the sentence as a whole (probably) needs to be reworded.



FounDit
Posted: Sunday, October 24, 2021 11:33:30 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/19/2011
Posts: 16,672
Neurons: 80,501
Koh Elaine wrote:
Suppose five people are eating? Which is the correct question?

Who is eating? or Who are eating?

Thanks


The simplest would be, "Who are the people at this/that table?" Since you are interested in who they are, the fact they are eating is not the most important fact.
Users browsing this topic
Guest


Forum Jump
You cannot post new topics in this forum.
You cannot reply to topics in this forum.
You cannot delete your posts in this forum.
You cannot edit your posts in this forum.
You cannot create polls in this forum.
You cannot vote in polls in this forum.