Attached Is or Attached Are: Subject-Verb Agreement

English can be a tricky language to learn, considering all the grammatical exceptions it presents to new and experienced speakers. Luckily, one consistent grammatical rule is subject-verb agreement, which requires that we conjugate the verb we attach to a subject to match.

“Attached is” would be correct if the subject is singular; if the subject is plural, then “attached are” is accurate. Depending on the subject of the sentence, the be-verb can become either singular “is” or plural “are” after “attached.” Therefore, both options are correct in their proper contexts.

When working with verbs like “attached,” “sent,” or “received,” a workplace environment comes to mind. In order to fluently portray what one wants to say in more professional areas of correspondence, the main components of the sentence need to match in terms of their conjugation. 

This article will cover the instances one should use the plural “attached are” or the singular “attached is,” as well as their corresponding meanings and places in the sentence. We will also take a look at similar examples and explore the topic of subject-verb agreement and how it functions in the English language. 

“Attached” and Subject-Verb Agreement

So which is the right one to use: “attached is” or “attached are”? The fact is, both are perfectly grammatical phrases depending on the sentence elements surrounding them. “Attached is” uses the singular be-verb, so one would use it when the subject is singular as well.

On the other hand, “attached are” uses the plural be-verb “are,” so one would use it when the subject is instead plural. 

Noun Plurality

Most nouns are easy to identify based on their number or plurality. In the majority of cases, one would simply add either an -s or an -es to the end of the word. For example, “notebook” becomes “notebooks,” and “class” becomes “classes.”

In addition, words ending with the letter -y add an -ies, such as “sky” and “skies.” Of course, these particular rules come with some exceptions, so make sure to pay some extra attention. 

For more information on how to change nouns from singular to plural, take a look at this article on the plural form of the noun “food.”

In addition, you may also want to familiarize yourself with the different types of nouns that we can use in a sentence. The main one to watch out for when working with subject-verb agreement is the collective noun, which acts as a singular noun but represents a group. 

Examples of collective nouns include “sum” or “team.” Although these nouns function in place of words like “numbers” or “members,” which are clearly plural, we should use them as singular nouns due to the fact that you can still conjugate them to become plural. 

Here are a few examples using the words above:

  • In this email, attached are the project numbers. 
  • In this email, attached is the sum. 
  • The members are attached to their coach.
  • The team is attached to its coach.

Take note that the final two example sentences use the word “attached” not to mean physically conjoined to something but, rather, emotionally dependent or “attached.”

Another type of noun to watch out for is the uncountable noun, which presents an object that we cannot enumerate, such as “happiness” or “advice.”

Sentence Structure

In the above examples, you may have noticed that we switched the order of the be-verb and its accompanying action verb halfway through. This is because the phrase is reversible and can take multiple forms. Some examples include:

Attached is ____.

___ is attached.

Attached to ___ is ___.

___ is attached to ___.

The last two examples include an object as well as a subject. Although the object is yet another noun that plays a role in the sentence, its plurality does not determine verb conjugation.

Let’s take a closer look:

  • Attached to the emails is a contract. 
  • Attached to the email is a contract.
  • Attached to the emails are the contracts.
  • Attached to the email are the contracts.

Take note of how the plurality of the object (email) does not affect the be-verb but, rather, the subject. You can find more information on the use of the be-verb here in our article on “everyone is” and “everyone are.”

SubjectObjectVerb
SingularSingularIs
SingularPluralIs
Plural SingularAre
Plural Plural Are

Is It “Attached Is” or “Attached Are the Minutes”?

To determine whether the correct way to phrase this sentence is “attached is the minutes” or “attached are the minutes,” the first course of action would be to figure out whether “the minutes” is a singular or plural noun. 

Since it represents multiple minutes and has that -s ending that usually indicates plurality, it means the noun should be plural as well. 

Since “minutes” is a plural noun, that means the accompanying verb must also be plural. Therefore, the correct way to write this sentence would be, “Attached are the minutes.” Another way to write this would be to flip it around, saying, “the minutes are attached.”

Here are a few other examples of sentences using plural subject-verb agreement:

  • Attached are the proposals. 
  • The plans are developed. 
  • Uploaded are the documents. 

Attaching a Preposition

You would likely use this sentence in some kind of work email or professional correspondence, indicating what the minutes are attached to by adding that preposition and the relevant object or location.

A preposition is a word such as “to,” “by,” or “in,” which usually precedes an object. In the section on sentence structure, for example, the object we used in the examples is “email,” and the prepositional phrase would be “to the email” (source).

This allows one to write more complex and nuanced sentences that provide more detail; it is important to know how to add prepositional phrases to simple sentences in order to clarify things, such as times, locations, and reasons.

Aside from what we covered in the earlier section, examples include:

  • The plans are downloaded in the folder. 
  • The claims are supported by the evidence.

Note how even though the verbs are different, the sentence structure stays the same. Even with the addition of a prepositional phrase, the primary rules of subject-verb agreement remain untouched. 

Changing Tenses

We only write the be-verbs “is” or “are” when the sentence construction is in the present tense. 

However, different verbs and different situations call for different tenses, which then requires not only that we conjugate the verb based on subject-verb agreement in terms of plurality but also in terms of tense. We can configure this very simply by reviewing the various tenses of “be” (source).

PastPresentFuture
WasIsWill be
WereAreWill be

By using the variant tenses of the be-verb, we can write more nuanced sentences.

For example, instead of saying that certain documents “are attached” to an email, we can say they “were attached” to reference a previous interaction. We can even use the past perfect tense to say that they “had been attached,” perhaps to imply that they no longer are.

Looking into different tenses also allows us to use verbs that are not easy to use in the present tense since the suffix -ed usually implies the past tense. Here are several examples:

  • The documents were downloaded onto the computer. 
  • The email was received by the CEO. 

You can find more information on forming verb tenses here in our article on the past tense of “run.”

“Attached Is the List” or “Attached Are the List”?

We can approach the example of “attached is” or “attached are the list” similarly through first identifying whether or not “list,” as a noun, is plural. Since it does not contain any -s, -es, or -ies suffix and is not an exception to the rule, we can conclude that it is a singular noun and that we should use the singular form of the be-verb.

Therefore, the correct way to form this sentence would be, “Attached is the list.” Here are a few examples of the singular form using the proper subject-verb agreement:

  • The list is published
  • Attached is an outline.
  • The paper was thrown away.

Take note of how the last sentence is in the past tense, so the be-verb must be in the past tense as well. Interestingly enough, a majority of the time, using a verb with a similar function to those in the examples in past tense automatically puts the sentence into the passive voice, which is something to be aware of. 

It simply means that the subject is not active, rather acting more as an object. To change this, we could tack on a subject to the beginning, which would change the structure of the sentence to the active voice, as you can see below. 

PassiveActive
The list is published.She published the list. 
Attached is an outline.He attached the outline. 
The paper was thrown away.They threw away the paper.

Article Use

Sometimes articles are a good indication of whether or not a noun is singular or plural. Articles are particles such as “a” or “the” that often come before a noun to indicate whether it is definite (the) or indefinite (a) (source).

While the article “the” does not give any indication of whether or not the following noun is plural, it is safe to assume that any noun we use together with the article “a” is singular. In that case, you would have to make sure the verb is singular as well.

As we can see above, “Attached is an outline” is a good example. Let’s look at a few variations:

  • Attached is an outline. 

In this case, the singular article “an” indicates a singular noun, “outline,” which in turn determines that we would use the singular be-verb “is.”

  • Attached is the outline. 

Using the article “the” gives no indication of the state of the following noun; therefore, we must look at the noun itself. Seeing that “outline” neither has a plural suffix nor is an exception, we can safely assume that it is singular and use “attached is.”

  • Attached are the outlines.

Here, we follow the first few steps as above. However, finding that this time the noun is the plural “outlines,” we change the be-verb to the plural “are.”

Workplace Grammar and Avoiding Conjugation Mistakes

Image by Bram Naus via Unsplash

You’re likely to find most of the examples we covered in this article in workplace communication. Phrases like “attached are,” “uploaded are,” and “downloaded is” are verbs we might find in email exchanges, presentations, business meetings, and phone calls.

It can be particularly difficult to convey any thoughts in a professional register, so checking simple grammatical aspects of workplace communication can be especially useful when trying to complete projects, plan meetings, and even when trying to impress a supervisor. 

The easiest way to do so is to take the extra time when writing an email to double-check for simple mistakes, like tenses, punctuation, and, as we just covered, subject-verb agreement. 

Within the varied facets of the English language, grammar is likely one of the most difficult to grasp due to the number of rules and exceptions.

However, even by just reviewing and checking for a few simple rules when approaching any writing style, you can slowly begin to accustom yourself to the way the language operates until those rules become more like muscle memory. This article was written for strategiesforparents.com

Since we can easily grasp subject-verb agreement through an understanding of more basic grammatical elements, such as noun and verb plurality and tense, it only takes a moment of attention to truly master.

Final Thoughts

To conclude, both “attached is” and “attached are” are correct, depending on what noun follows the phrase. For example, if the noun is singular, “attached is” is correct, and if the noun is plural, then “attached are” is the right phrase to use instead.

This usage is due to the concept of subject-verb agreement, which states that the noun and its accompanying verb must both be of the same number. 

You can determine this through various means, mainly the article preceding the noun and whether or not the suffix -s, -ies- or -ies is attached to the noun or whether the noun is a plural exception.

Dr. Patrick Capriola

Dr. Patrick Capriola is the founder of strategiesforparents.com. He is an expert in parenting, social-emotional development, academic growth, dropout prevention, educator professional development, and navigating the school system. He earned his Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Florida in 2014. His professional experience includes serving as a classroom teacher, a student behavior specialist, a school administrator, and an educational trainer - providing professional development to school administrators and teachers, helping them learn to meet the academic and social-emotional needs of students. He is focused on growing strategiesforparents.com into a leading source for high-quality research-based content to help parents work through the challenges of raising a family and progressing through the school system.

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