In one of my German writing tests, I have the following sentence:

a) Die Umgebung ist sehr nett, jedoch ist die Leute ein bisschen unfreundlich.

This has been checked by my teacher and she says it is correct but it just sounds wrong. I would expect it to be

b) Die Umgebung ist sehr nett, jedoch sind die Leute ein bisschen unfreundlich.

since I believe Leute to be a plural. Although I am aware that German cannot always be translated into English, to me, this sentence would mean

The surroundings are very nice, however the people is a bit unfriendly.

However, there may be a simple German rule that I am not aware of. Who is correct?

  • Note that the first verb needs to be ist, as Umgebung is singular.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Nov 15, 2014 at 18:44
  • @Wrzlprmft thanks. So does that make the second verb ist or sind?
    – Harvey
    Commented Nov 15, 2014 at 18:54
  • 3
    "ist" neither sounds nor is correct. If it looks like a plural, it has to quack like a plural - German doesn't have idiomatic mis-concord like "the police are busy" or "the data is informative". Commented Nov 15, 2014 at 21:31
  • It's not impossible for a noun to change from English plural to German singular: "My pants are green" -- Meine Hose ist grün. That's not the case here though.
    – RDBury
    Commented Aug 17, 2020 at 20:35

2 Answers 2


Looking around I found this in http://german.about.com/library/weekly/aa021206a.htm

[Leute] is a common informal term for “people” in general. It is a word that only exists in the plural. (The singular of Leute is die/eine Person.)

Which seems to indicate that the correct form is

Die Leute sind

I have never seen die Leute ist.

  • Thank you. All of my instincts told me that it should sind but since my teacher had checked it I thought I was missing myself.
    – Harvey
    Commented Nov 15, 2014 at 21:47

I quote the vocabulary:

die Leute Pl., kein Sg.

die Leute, plural, no singular conjugation. So, I guess "die Leute ist" is wrong.

  • 2
    What does this add to the other answer?
    – RalfFriedl
    Commented Mar 5, 2021 at 9:37

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