Forums · General English Grammar & Vocabulary, Listening & Speaking · General English Grammar Questions
"Long time no see!" Hope all of you are doing well.
Actually, I've got a quick question about whether a singular/plural verb should be used after "there" in the following sentences:-
1. There is/are a boy & a girl in the playground.
2. There is/are a boy, a girl & an old man in the playground.
3. There is/are a boy & two girls in the playground.
4. There is/are two girls & a boy in the playground.
I'd be grateful if anyone could give a hand here.
The fact is that three persons (more than one singular) are described here.
In the room, there are a boy, a girl, and a box.
There are a boy,a girl,a dog,and a cat in the story
English is quite flexible with regard to the form of the verb. Many grammarians prefer is for sentences 1 through 3 because the next word (a boy) is singular. However, since there is more than one person in all, many usage experts think areis also correct. I am one of those.
For sentence 4 I would use only are because the next noun (girls) is a plural.
"There is a boy, a girl and an old man" - This is the way I say it, and the way I think the majority of native speakers say it.
I think you'll find this thread very interesting:
Kathy4561. There is a boy & a girl in the playground.This topic has been discussed in another thread.
Some language experts now regard there is as a fixed, unvarying idiom that can precede a (plural) list of nouns so long as the first noun is in the singular. However, the constructions with a singular verb might attract criticism from old-fashioned purists.(Extracted from The Right Word at the Right Time.)
I agree with you, but what can we quote as sources for this idea. I need "Proof in pudding", or I'll have pudding in face :-))
AnonymousYoong LiatBelow is the information extracted from two books on English usage. The first book is on British English usage, the second on American English usage.
The Right Word at the Right Time states as follows:
There is an apple and pears for dessert.
There are apples and a pear for dessert.
The Merriam-Webster Guide to English Usage states as follows:
When a compound subject follows the verb and the first element is singular, theverb may be either singular or plural:
There is a lake and several small streams.
There are a dog and a few cats in the house.
The singular construction is more common. Still, some writers insist on formalagreement and use a plural verb:
There were an apartment house and a parking lot at the end of the block.
I hope the above gives a clear picture.
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