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I am working on an assignment and can't figure out which sentence is correct...

C’est de longs devoirs laborieux

Ce sont de longs devoirs laborieux

Could somebody please tell me which is correct (if any are) and why?

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Ce sont de longs devoirs laborieux

I'm guessing that your question isn't about the conjugation (est being 3rd-person singular, sont being plural) but about whether the subject of the verb is ce (singular) or de longs devoirs (plural).

The answer is that in this « tour présentatif », you treat the thing you're talking about as the subject of the verb, even though grammatically you would expect ce to take that role.

Thus, de longs devoirs is your subject and you use sont to agree with the plural.

  • thank you so much!! – Stephanie Feb 23 '19 at 18:28
  • The singular can also be used, but it is more colloquial. – Mathieu Bouville Feb 23 '19 at 18:58
  • @MathieuBouville Ah, okay. (So for an assignment/test in a class, the asker should probably stick with sont.) – Luke Sawczak Feb 23 '19 at 18:59
  • Like using 'there is' where you should use 'there are': it happens, but it shouldn't. – Mathieu Bouville Feb 23 '19 at 19:30
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    @MathieuBouville Sometimes, the singular is even mandatory for the verb even when referring to a plural: Ce sont de longs devoirs laborieux. – Oui, c'en est ! (not c'en sont). Also: Combien ça coûte ? – C'est huit euros par personne. (not ce sont huit euros). C'est vous qui voyez (not ce sont vous qui voyez) – jlliagre Feb 24 '19 at 5:08
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It all depends on whether the subject is singular or plural, if you are talking about only one exercise that you find hard, you can just say:

C’est un exercice laborieux.

But if you are talking about various exercises, we would rather use:

Ce sont de longs devoirs laborieux.

  • The subject, being the pronoun ce, is technically singular, This is a case where the verb can agree with its object instead of its subject. – jlliagre Feb 24 '19 at 16:54

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