"as sure as eggs is eggs"

“‘We can’t have a good time if she’s with us,’ said the mate. ‘She’ll spoil it as sure as eggs is eggs.’”—WINTER CRUISE by W. Somerset Maugham

Do you usually use “is” after “eggs”?

1 Like

Never heard about this nice expression. I look forward to the explainations by native speakers. Thanks for posting that Yutaka.

The dictionary says this phrase is old fashioned.

1 Like

It is a memorable expression because it employs improper grammar and has a pleasing hint of rustic dialect. It might also suggest an amusing corruption from the duller version “as sure as X is X” (“X”->“eggs”).


Some nouns, for example, “means” and “series”, are treated as both singular and plural. I wonder if “eggs” in your mind is treated like this. Another guess is that what is called eggs is treated as a word or a concept. If you say “Eggs”, it means “Eggs”. So “Eggs” IS “Eggs”.

“Rules is rules”

The writer of this article is an associate editor for the Guardian.


I’m pretty sure it was written “tongue in cheek”.

I met a Nigerian woman in Vienna once. English was her first and only language. At first, I understand not a word of what she said, but after a few minutes, I understood 100%. She spoke with some funny grammar. She would say things like

I am no hungry - I am not hungry
I no want to eat - I don’t want to eat

I have since noticed this in the English spoken in some parts of Africa when hearing them interviewed on the news and whatnot.

1 Like

“Ham and eggs is my favorite.”

“When the subject stands for a definable unit, such as money, measurement, time, organization and food combinations, the verb is indeed singular.”

The expression is ‘as sure as eggs are eggs’. But the character in the story is a rough, working man who speaks ungrammatically.

1 Like

To elaborate, I think it means “definable and often treated as a unit” - that is, people often take it as a separate entity.

For example, “ham and eggs” is a kind of a dish people usually think of as a conceptual entity.

Eggs are, however, not thought of as an entity but just a collection of individual items.

They are sold in units of a dozen or dozens, but that doesn’t make for strong enough case to make them an entity. After all most small things are often handled in quantities.

In the case of “Where’s my fifty dollars?” (on the linked page), the fifty dollars is something specific to him that has been in his wallet as a specific thing. So it is treated as singular.

So, “ham and eggs” and “my fift dollars” should be singular while “eggs” should be plural.

“as eggs is eggs” is therefore grammatically wrong, although of course that doesn’t mean people wont’ say it.

Also, maybe tangentially related to this topic, undefined or unclear collections of inanimate things are often treated as singular.
For example, “All’s well that ends well”, “All was quiet in the city”.
“All” here must involve many things, but it is not well defined, unlike the case of “eggs” which is as clear as clear can be.

The singular/plural question can lead us into many tricky situations.

1 Like

As sure as eggs is/are eggs means that you are telling somebody something that you are certain will happen. Sure as eggs - Idioms by The Free Dictionary