in reply to Can I clean this up??

You may want to check out Lingua::EN::Inflect -- it takes a singular form of a noun/verb/some adjectives and spits out the plural form.

From the docs, it can do it conditionally as such:

# CONDITIONALLY FORM THE PLURAL print "I saw $cat_count ", PL("cat",$cat_count), "\n";

Your conditional statement just wants to make the is/are look right for the end user -- now you've gotten helpful repiles for something that works specifically for the is/are part, but in the future if you need more flexibiilty you can consider the module.