Is "the Rocky Mountains" singular or plural?

Is “the Rocky Mountains” singular or plural?

When I searched for the answer on the net,
I found both cases.

  1. The Rocky Mountains are located in western North America.

  2. The Rocky Mountains straddles the border between the United States and Canada.

I’ve got so confused now!
Could you please kindly explain these situations?

One more question.

What do you think this?

" at 0 degrees longitude"

“0” must be singular, isn’t it??

Hi Phoo

Rocky Mountains should always be grammatically plural.

The “Rocky Mountain mountain range” or the “Rocky Mountain region” would both be singular.

“at 0 degrees” is correct. Maybe you could think of this as similar to saying “I have zero dollars”.

However, if you wanted to use “zero degrees” as an adjective, then you could say: “at the zero-degree point”.


Hello Amy,

Thank you for your explanation to my questions.
I also asked the same questions to another English
teacher, he said that sometimes “Rocky Mountains”
could be considered as one" and “it should be treated
as singular depending on situation.”

So to me, it sounds like both cases are OK depending on how a speaker images the mountains.

Am I right?

Hi Phoo

Sorry, I would say you’re very wrong.

It’s possible that someone might say (or write) “The Rocky Mountains” but be thinking “The Rocky Mountain mountain range” and therefore possibly use the singular form of the verb. (That’s also one reason I mentioned this in my first post.)

But I stand by my opinion: to be grammatically correct, “The Rocky Mountains” must be used with the plural form of the verb. This is also the most typical way for a native speaker to say this.

In my opinion, using a singular verb form here is neither correct nor usual. In fact, I would not expect anyone to intentionally use the singular verb form when the subject of the sentence is “The Rocky Mountains”.

Let’s face it — when somebody talks about “The Rocky Mountains”, they often aren’t really thinking about many individual mountains, but rather one whole group of mountains. But, even people who are thinking about a “group of mountains” or a “mountain range” would still normally use the plural form of the verb when they say “The Rocky Mountains”.

This is not only true for the Rockies, but also for The Appalachian Mountains, The Smokey Mountains, The Cascades, The Black Hills, The “Fourteeners”, etc.

I do not recommend seeing the singular form of the verb as a “standard option” when talking about “The Rocky Mountains” (etc.), but rather as an extremely rare exception or as a “slip of the tongue” (mistake!).

I’d be interested in knowing just how many examples/instances of the singlular form of the verb (connected with " ___ Mountains") you were able to find on the internet. I’d be willing to bet that the number of “plural verb” usages far outnumbers the singular. Further, I would expect to have trouble even finding any examples of singular verb-usage at all (although I wouldn’t rule this usage out).


Thank you again!

So you are saying that
no matter how speakers think or image, they should use plural form of verb
when they use “mountains” as subject, right?

To stick to subject-verb agreement rule regardless how speaker image
is simpler and easier way for me to learn English as a second language.
So I like your way of thinking.
And you said that majority of native speaker think that way.

Now, there is one more thing bothering me.
The English word, “the police”.
I see many people including native speakers using a plural form of a verb
such as:

  1. The police are after the motorcycle.
  2. The police have identified the primary suspect.

When people say “the police”, they image one big authority or each individual policeman.
Either way, since “the police” is singular, the verb should agree with its subject
as you say.

How should I understand this?

Hi Phoo,

In my posts above, I was referring specifically to names of mountain ranges that include “Mountains” or “Hills” (i.e. plural words) as part of their name.

There is also, for example, “The Alaskan Range” in Alaska. You should use a singular verb with this particular mountain range. Its name is singular. :smiley:

Could you post the link to the web site(s) where you saw the unusual “singular verb” usage? I honestly think you must have read something wrong. I haven’t been able to find any examples at all — not even using “The Rocky Mountains straddles the border” (from your original example) as search words in Google.

What I did find using the search words mentioned above was the following sentence, for example:

The Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park in the Rocky Mountains straddles the border between the Canadian province of Alberta and the US state of Montana.

The reason that the singular form “straddles” is used here is because it refers to a singular subject —> “Park

(Rocky Mountains is not the subject of the sentence above!)

Regarding the word “police”:
This is a “special word”. :wink: “Police” is a plural word without an “S” — just as the word “people” is plural — and you should use the plural verb form. Saying “the police is” sounds “uneducated”. :wink: When I think of “police”, I don’t picture just one person. (Just one member of the police would be a policeman)

I’m sure some native speakers will use the word “police” as a singular word sometimes. That is nonetheless “a grammar mistake”.

Singular words/expressions would be, for example: “policeman” (one man) or “police force” (one force).

Of course native speakers sometimes say things in incorrect ways (e.g., because they’re thinking something else in their heads, or they’re using an informal slang expression), but this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s correct or even typical.


There are some sentences which treat “the Rocky Mountains” as “singular noun”.
These are some I found:

The Rocky Mountains in North America extends from New Mexico to Alaska. … ntains.htm

The Rocky Mountains is like no second region of USA for unaffected landscapes and grandiose nature. … tains.html

Thank you for your explanation about “the police”.
I did not know that “police” is a plural word.
I should use plural verb for it from now on
so that people don’t think I am uneducated! :wink:

Hi Phoo

Thanks for the links. It was driving me crazy that I hadn’t been able to find any examples of the singular usage at all.

Your first link is the better of the two and might be a good example of the writer first thinking of the Rockies as a range and then (in a second sentence) focusing more on the mountains themselves. The writer uses both singular and plural in the article.

It’s still my opnion, though, that this is more the exception than the rule. :wink:

Your second link appears to be a translation of a German text, and the translation as a whole is pretty bad. Examples of this can be found in the same sentence you quoted above: “The Rocky Mountains is like no second region of USA for unaffected landscapes and grandiose nature.” For example, the English word ‘grandiose’ has a decidedly negative feeling (often of disapproval) and I don’t think that’s what the author (translator) really wanted to imply here. I’m pretty sure this was a case of a direct translation of a “false friend”: the German word “grandios” unfortunately does not have exactly the same meaning as the English word “grandiose”. :wink:

Don’t worry, Phoo. I wouldn’t dream of thinking of you as “uneducated”. :smiley: