I’ve found some examples like:

Alles ist richtig.

Meine Familie ist sehr geil.

Are there other examples of same usage?

  • 3
    "Familie" is a singular subject, not plural, no? Same for "Alles".
    – musiKk
    May 27, 2011 at 9:16
  • "Famillie" is singular? I didn't know that. "Famillie" refers to more than one person, that's what I meant.
    – user128
    May 27, 2011 at 9:18
  • 3
    @Explorer eine Familie, zwei Familien (like in all other languages I know: one family, two families)
    – splattne
    May 27, 2011 at 9:21
  • 9
    "Meine Familie ist sehr geil." - this is kind of a strange example sentence, would you mind changing it to "Meine Familie ist sehr nett."? ^^
    – ladybug
    May 27, 2011 at 11:12
  • 4
    To explain ladybug's comment: Geil can mean either "very good" in youthful, colloquial speech, or it can mean "horny", which was probably not what you're trying to say.
    – fzwo
    May 27, 2011 at 14:24

3 Answers 3


Familie and alles are not plural words. They define single entities. So, using the singular conjugated verb is perfectly right in these cases.

  • "plural words"? When I say alles, the auditor expect a plural verb like "sind".Am I right, or it's my illusion?
    – user128
    May 27, 2011 at 9:22
  • 4
    @Explorer Alle sind but alles ist. Those are not the same words.
    – deceze
    May 27, 2011 at 9:31
  • It's your illusion. Or your pre-conception that is based on the structure of your native language. "Alles ist gut". "Alle sind im Bett". These are different constructs. "Alles" is a singular subject. "Alle" is a plural subject. The differences may be subtle and hard to understand, but they DO exist.
    – teylyn
    May 27, 2011 at 9:33
  • 1
    @Explorer And you're talking about grammar issues here, so the grammatical singularity counts, not the meaning. :)
    – deceze
    May 27, 2011 at 9:45
  • 1
    @user128: Not being a native English speaker and not being an expert for the English language: I think it's like "Everything" in English. "Everything" also generally does mean multiple objects, but you are saying e.g. "Everything is good" or "Everything was easily accessible" instead of "Everything are good" or "Everything were easily accessible".
    – Binarus
    Apr 24, 2016 at 7:42

I see this is going to be too long for a comment.

Having a single word describe more than one thing does not mean the word is plural. Most of the time plurality conforms to what the word describes in its most direct sense.

Alle sind im Bett.

Here we have multiple people being described.

Alles ist gut.

Here it refers to a situation or just … everything; not two or five things in particular.

Adam und Eva gehen durch den Garten.

Here the subject consists of two persons so we use plural.

Eine Herde Schafe ist auf der Wiese.

Now it gets more subtle. Although a herd of sheep consists of multiple sheep, we describe the herd as a whole. We don’t mean a small subset of sheep but address all of them at the same time. I don’t know if this makes sense (in particular the difference between this and the first example).

It’s more or less the same with Familie. That word is used to address a group of people that belongs together in a very rigid fashion.


The confusion about this for English speakers comes from a difference between English and German grammatical logic.

In German verbs conjugate for the grammatical number of the noun, even if that singular noun represents a group of people or things.

In English it's common to conjugate according to the extrapolated number the noun represents. It's probably incorrect on some level but extremely prevalent.

So in English you might say the family are because "the family" is more than one person, but in German you say die Familie ist because you are talking about one family.

In this article from The Guardian, they use England are even though there isn't more than one England, because they are talking about the English team of players. You don't do this in German.

  • 2
    I don't think the family are is correct but now you made me unsure. Googlefight favors is.
    – musiKk
    May 27, 2011 at 10:31
  • 1
    There are certainly situations where you would say is. It possibly depends on whether "the family" is being used to refer to specific people or not - on googlefight "your family are" beats "your family is". I'm talking from a UK English perspective - it may differ elsewhere.
    – misterben
    May 27, 2011 at 10:43
  • I wasn't aware of that. Good to know!
    – musiKk
    May 27, 2011 at 10:51
  • 7
    Usage is different between UK and US English. In the UK, they tend to say the family are or England are because it's a group of people. In the US, we tend to say the family is or America is because the nouns are grammatically singular. It sounds like German is more like American English in this regard.
    – Arthaey
    May 27, 2011 at 15:45

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