"Heavy rains has" "Today's news are"


I just found these questions in a test on the internet:

  1. 'Heavy rains has caused flooding in several parts of the south west.'

Is this sentence right or wrong? Also:

2) 'Today's news are all about the approaching hurricane.'

Is this sentence right or wrong?

The answer key say that both are wrong. Maybe for (1), the lowercase letters for "south west" are the error, I'm not sure. I don't understand what could be wrong with (2).


Posted 2018-05-22T10:41:28.067

Reputation: 51

Verb agreement: 'rain has' or 'rains have'; 'news is'. The second one is tricky because it looks like a plural but is uncountable: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/news

– James Random – 2018-05-22T12:02:03.557

@JamesRandom The first is tricky too, because rain is normally uncountable, but is countable here. – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2018-05-22T12:21:46.613

1@Araucaria I have heard "rains" often enough that it isn't remarkable to me. (I hope that is because I have lived in some very wet countries, rather than the song Africa by Toto: 'I bless the rains down in Africa'.) – James Random – 2018-05-22T12:48:24.800



The questions here want to test your knowledge of English plural, singular and uncountable nouns. They are testing this by seeing whether you make the verb agree with the subject noun phrase.

The noun rain is usually uncountable and would take a singular verb. However in weather forecasts, when we are talking about it raining at different times in different places, we sometimes talk about heavy rains, which is plural. So in example (1), we need:

Heavy rains have caused flooding in several parts of the south west.

In the second example, the word news looks like a plural form because it ends in S (it has plural morphology). In addition, in many languages the word for 'news' is plural—for example the word noticias in Spanish. But in English, the word news is uncountable, even though it looks plural. We need singular verb agreement. So example (2) should read:

Today's news is all about the approaching hurricane.

Some other nouns that look plural but are usually uncountable/singular in English are:

  • Some subjects: mathematics (and in British English maths), physics, electronics, politics, ethics etc

  • Some sports and games: billiards, darts, tiddlywinks etc

  • Some place names: Brussels, Wales, Athens, the Netherlands etc

  • Some illnesses, diseases and medical conditions: rabies, rickets, mumps, measles, the bends etc

Grammar Note:

In English we also have some countable nouns whose singular and plural forms both end in S. They take singular or plural verb agreement, depending on the meaning:

  • a kennels, two kennels
  • a species, two species

Other common words like this include: means and crossroads.

Araucaria - Not here any more.

Posted 2018-05-22T10:41:28.067

Reputation: 25 536