1 2
Can I say,

(a) When we arrived, there was / were no people at the restaurant.
Veteran Member7,406
Yes. Use "were" for the plural "people".
Senior Member2,256
Proficient Speaker: Users in this role are known to maintain an excellent grasp of the English language. You can only be promoted to this role by the Englishforums team.Trusted Users: Trusted users are allowed to use additional capabilities of the site such as private messaging to all users and various other advanced features. You cannot join this role unless you are promoted by an administrator.
here it should be

When we arrived, there was no one in the restaurant
Regular Member965
so, which one is correct?
"There were no people..." is correct too.
Contributing Member1,848
Both suggested sentences are OK
Veteran Member11,673
Proficient Speaker: Users in this role are known to maintain an excellent grasp of the English language. You can only be promoted to this role by the Englishforums team.
I agree that both are correct, but the previously suggetsed "There was no one" sounds more natural. "There were no people" sounds like perhaps there were... what? mice? Martians?
Veteran Member27,495
Proficient Speaker: Users in this role are known to maintain an excellent grasp of the English language. You can only be promoted to this role by the Englishforums team.Retired Moderator: A moderator who has retired.Trusted Users: Trusted users are allowed to use additional capabilities of the site such as private messaging to all users and various other advanced features. You cannot join this role unless you are promoted by an administrator.
I think I know what you mean, GG, but I don't think the danger of taking were as a subjunctive here is major.
Proficient Speaker: Users in this role are known to maintain an excellent grasp of the English language. You can only be promoted to this role by the Englishforums team.
It's not the "were" that sounded odd.

You go to a place where people go. There's no one there.

Do you say "How odd. There are no people here" or "How odd. There's no one here"?

(Again, I'm not arguing the correctness of the first. Only the naturalness.)
Proficient Speaker: Users in this role are known to maintain an excellent grasp of the English language. You can only be promoted to this role by the Englishforums team.Retired Moderator: A moderator who has retired.Trusted Users: Trusted users are allowed to use additional capabilities of the site such as private messaging to all users and various other advanced features. You cannot join this role unless you are promoted by an administrator.
Show more
Live chat
Registered users can join here