Ask Archer: Plural Arrangements
Archer Answers Your Big Questions

On June the 29th, yours truly received the following mail-in question:

Dear Prof. Archer,

Am I a Kardashian or aren’t I?


Sincerely Yours,

Katz Kardashian


Dear Katz,


Yes, Katz, there is a Santa Claus.

Salutations to you. I can understand your quandary about the forms of the verb ‘be’ when referring to one’s self. You have truly come to the right animal for this.

The first person, singular present form of be is am. You may easily say, for example, “I am a Kardashian.” On the other hand, are is the second person, singular present form of be (e.g. “You are a Kardashian”). It is also the plural present form for the first, second, and third persons. One might say, “We are Kardashians, you are Kardashians, and they are Kardashians.” This is correct usage, except a very alarming premise because it would mean that we are now overrun with Kardashians. Heaven forbid!

Your question would be better worded as “Am I a Kardashian or am I not?” This will indubitably sound overly formal, however correct. For my two pence, it is better to err on the side of formality. Harumph. While it is acceptable to say “Aren’t I?” in loathsome company, you would not say “I are! Are I not?”

Thus, to answer your query, you may use either case as long as you gauge your situation. If you are surrounded by respectable individuals, such as yours truly, use formal diction. If, on the other hand, you are speaking to folks of a questionable standing, then feel free to use the informal wording, you barbarian.

In either case, because you are a Kardashian, you would still be wrong, anyway. Please be comforted in your Santa Claus, however.


I remain, yours, most Virginia-ly,

Archer (Prof.)


P.S. You may find my previous columns HERE.

Categories: [language], [self-help]

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