"That's my rubber and ruler" Why isn't it "they are" as there are two objects?


A: That's my pencil case and my pen and pencil.
B. Oh! That's my rubber and ruler.

Why is it not “they are” as there are two objects?

I found the example in Junior New Concept English for Starters, published by Pearson Longman.

Here is a screenshot of the conversation page from coursebook speaking and listening exercise


Posted 2017-08-28T08:28:34.923

Reputation: 41



I think the reason it's confusing is because a certain key phrase, that is definitely and clearly implied, is omitted for brevity:

"That's my rubber and [that's my] ruler."

The sentence applies the singular linking verb "is" in two separate cases using two separate singular subject complements.


Posted 2017-08-28T08:28:34.923

Reputation: 374


The plural of "that" is "those". It would have been more correct to say:

Those are my rubber and ruler.

However, I actually think that sounds wrong though I am certain it is correct.

It is probably more common to say it like this:

Those are mine. (you have to point to make it clear)


That pencil and that eraser are mine.


Those two are mine.

"That's my pencil and eraser" is definitely not correct but native speakers do sometimes speak that way. It sounds like you are considering the pencil and eraser to be "one" thing.

By the way, I can't speak for all English speakers, but we do not call it a "rubber" in America (I would not know what you were talking about if not for context). We call it an "eraser".


Posted 2017-08-28T08:28:34.923

Reputation: 1 147

'That's' as an abbreviation for 'those are' may well be considered acceptable by many nowadays; grammar changes. – Edwin Ashworth – 2017-08-28T17:19:21.450

Rubber is the standard name in British English. – Sarriesfan – 2017-08-28T20:29:14.997

You learn something new every day. Is the term "eraser" in common usage in British English? – G-Cam – 2017-08-28T20:33:50.363

thank you all so much, especially @G-Cam. i think the book uses that instead of those for various reasons including the ones you have mentioned.

and maybe the book thinks "that" is a lot of easier for kids to say and learn before they're introduced "those". does this make sense too?

by the way, new concept English is published by a British company so the book uses words that are more common in British English. another example, in books published by Oxford publishing company, they say somebody is cross instead of mad when he or she is angry. so we always explain both usages at the same time. – neil_2001 – 2017-08-28T22:56:23.283