Solve Grammar – Use IS or ARE?

English is a vast language that has a large number of grammar structures, parts of speech, vocabulary, phrases, idioms, and whatnot. Even the pronunciation has been changing. The way of talking is also different for different outings, we use formal, non-formal, and even use jargon. The spelling of words has still been changing, that’s how our language is. It is a wonderful language that is being spoken almost all across the world. It is the medium of communication between people who don’t understand the local languages of each other. Today, we learn how and when to use IS and ARE. We have an example to look at, and it’s “The pilot or flight attendant __ usually alert during the flight”.

Before directly jumping to the answer, it is important to understand the use of ‘IS’ and ‘ARE’, and the concept behind them.

Explanation of IS and ARE with Examples


We use IS as a verb form to be that fits best for singular nouns.


  • A couple is buying a new car.
  • This pair of jeans is the last one.
  • The counsil is having a meeting right now.
  • She is not really suited for a marketing career.
  • I will look after her mother when he is on a business trip.
  • There is a dog on the porch.
  • He is moving to Japan.
  • She is from Germany


We use Are for plural nouns.


  • Students are not being honest with each other.
  • Several class fellows are making an assignment.
  • You are never too old to enjoy life.
  • They are preparing for the PowerPoint presentation on the English language.
  • Her children are the apple of her eye.
  • There are two sides to every coin.
  • Maria and James are friends.
  • We are planning a trip.
  • We are going to attend a wedding ceremony this week.

Point to Remember

You need to look at the subject. If it is singular, you need to use ‘IS’. In the case, the Subject is found to be plural, you need to use ‘ARE’.

When two singular subjects are used with ‘or’ and ‘nor, use ‘IS’. Check example


John or Smith is arriving by bus today.

When two or more subjects are used in a sentence that is connected by ‘And’, you need to use ‘ARE’.


Katherine and Steve are not happy.

Which auxiliary to use “The pilot or flight attendant __ usually alert during the flight” – IS or ARE

We are talking this sentence as an example to show you which one to use in the fill-the-black space; IS or ARE.

As we have discussed above the definition of ‘is’ and ‘are’, let’s talk about what fits the best in this example. According to a rule, we need to use ‘is’ when two singulars are connected with ‘or’ and ‘nor’.

As per the demo sentence, it is missing the adjective as well as the location saying ‘usually’ makes it unclear, and also shows that the verb is lacking. It is according to the general rule that a modal verb is used to complete the meaning of the sentence. As we know, the ‘attendant’ before an empty space is singular so the verb should also be singular. The sentence structure should be like ‘A pilot, or flight attendant is typically awake when flying.

So, the answer is ‘IS’.


We have discussed the use of ‘is’ and ‘are’ for a demo sentence “The pilot or flight attendant __ usually alert during the flight”.

I hope you find it helpful!

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