Put an end to sloppy copy: Part 3 – Is or Are?

Part 3: Is or Are?

Two little words that we’ve use day-in, day-out since we started school – who would have thought they could ever cause confusion?

In most cases they don’t. The simple rule is this:

Are = plural
Is = singular


• One rule IS simple
• Two rules ARE complex

• ARE you going on holiday?
• IS that your dinosaur?

• Brighton copywriters ARE brilliant
• Lucy IS the best

Problems tend to occur when the status of a subject, singular or plural, is less obvious. This can happen when company names are concerned:

A: Penguin Books are based in Antarctica
B: Penguin Books is based in Antarctica

B is correct – although the word ‘books’ is plural, the subject is singular (one company)

Sometimes this can sound weird. For example:

“McVities is launching a brand new biscuit, with a secret ingredient”

The temptation here is to say “McVities are…”, which would be wrong.

To make you feel more comfortable, or to double check you’ve got the grammar right, add in a bit more description:

“The company McVities is launching a brand new biscuit, with a secret ingredient”


Hope that helps. Now time for that chocolate digestive…

Continuing the mission to stamp out sloppy copy, look out for Part 4 in my series of grammar tips for copywriters.

lucy@lucygrewcock.comLooking for a copywriter with  a great grip on grammar? I’m here to help

Put an end to sloppy copy: part 2 – or, nor or neither?

Or, nor or neither?

Using the word ‘or’ is a no-brainer for most people. As a way of offering two alternative things, we use the word ‘or’ in everyday speech without thinking or worrying about it.

  • I can be happy or sad, depending on the weather
  • Would you prefer to ride the elephant or the rhino?

What about the word ‘nor’? It’s not quite so straight forward…  ‘Nor’ often sounds a bit formal, a bit awkward and perhaps a bit old fashioned, so many of us abandon it altogether, but when things turn negative ‘nor’ should step in:

  • I feel neither happy nor sad when it rains
  • Neither elephants nor rhinos are found in this zoo

Confused? Let’s get practical. Take a look at these sentences:

Which one is correct?

A: I’m not bored or tiered, I just can’t be bothered
B: I’m not bored nor tiered, I just can’t be bothered

Answer: B

A: There aren’t any antelopes nor any dogs here
B: There aren’t any antelopes or any dogs here

Answer: A

Hope that helps. Continuing the mission to stamp out sloppy copy, look out for my next blog on ‘IS or ARE.’

lucy@lucygrewcock.comLooking for a Brighton copywriter with a  grip on grammar? I’m here

Book review (Freelance writing): Brilliant Freelancer

Title: Brilliant Freelancer
Author: Leif Kendall

About the book: Brilliant Freelancer is broken into easily digestible chunks, which cover aspects such as: getting-started essentials, finding work, motivating yourself and managing your cash flow. Leif raises and answers questions surrounding each topic, includes advice from a range of successful freelancers and rounds up each chapter with a ‘brilliant recap’. Packed with tips and practical exercises, Brilliant Freelancer is a valuable tool for self-training and a great source of motivation.

Read this if… You are already a freelancer or are considering setting out on your own and are open to picking up expert tips from a super successful freelancer. Although Leif is a Copywriter, his book is geared towards the freelance profession as whole, so any freelancers, from plumbers to web-designers, can benefit.

In my opinion: A practical guide as well as an entertaining read, Brilliant Freelancer provides new or wannabe freelancers with an honest account of the realities of freelance work, laying out a step-by-step approach for entering and managing a freelance career. For established freelancers, Leif’s book is a superb source of motivation, a reminder of what works well and a kick-up-the-bum for any freelancers who are dragging their heels. One of Brighton’s most successful Copywriters, who recently decamped to Dorset, Leif is a freelancer with authority and,with copies of Brilliant Freelancer starting at £9.09, his book is a far better value than attending a training seminar.

See a preview here
Buy it at Amazon