Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 22
  1. #1
    Unregistered Guest

    Default there be sentences

    There (is, are) a light bulb and a screwdriver in the drawer.

    We are asked to choose the article . The answer to it is are. I don't know why. I think the answer should be is, according to the grammar I have learned.

  2. #2
    TheParser is online now Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    4,888
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: there be sentences

    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
    There (is, are) a light bulb and a screwdriver in the drawer.

    We are asked to choose the article . The answer to it is are. I don't know why. I think the answer should be is, according to the grammar I have learned.
    (NOT a teacher) There ARE a light bulb and a screwdriver in the drawer. (A light bulb and a screwdriver ARE in the drawer.)

  3. #3
    Linguist__ is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    576
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: there be sentences

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    (NOT a teacher) There ARE a light bulb and a screwdriver in the drawer. (A light bulb and a screwdriver ARE in the drawer.)
    Really?! My goodness, I need to reasses my own language skills . I would have bet a lot of money on the answer being "There is a light bulb and a screwdriver in the drawer"!

  4. #4
    TheParser is online now Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    4,888
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: there be sentences

    Quote Originally Posted by Linguist__ View Post
    Really?! My goodness, I need to reasses my own language skills . I would have bet a lot of money on the answer being "There is a light bulb and a screwdriver in the drawer"!
    Dear Linguist: Every American book assures me that in a "there" sentence, the subject comes later: There ___a light bulb and a screwdriver. The compound subject is plural: A light bulb AND a screwdriver ARE on the table. (Surely, one would NOT say: A light bulb and a screwdriver IS on the table.) BUT if the first subject is singular and the second subject is plural, then most books approve a singular verb for the sake of sound: There is one light bulb and three screwdrivers. I visit this website because I love our language. If I am wrong, I WANT to know. Perhaps a moderator or other poster can clarify this matter. Thank you.

  5. #5
    bhaisahab's Avatar
    bhaisahab is offline Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • England
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    22,236
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: there be sentences

    Quote Originally Posted by Linguist__ View Post
    Really?! My goodness, I need to reasses my own language skills . I would have bet a lot of money on the answer being "There is a light bulb and a screwdriver in the drawer"!
    If you were to bet a lot of money on it, you would win. "is" is correct.

  6. #6
    TheParser is online now Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    4,888
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: there be sentences

    Quote Originally Posted by Linguist__ View Post
    Really?! My goodness, I need to reasses my own language skills . I would have bet a lot of money on the answer being "There is a light bulb and a screwdriver in the drawer"!
    Dear Linguist: This debate is great. I don't have room in a post to cite many American authorities. Here's one (Harper's English Grammar by John B. Opdycke. Ph. D.): THERE is not taken as the subject of the verb...THERE, of course, has no number...Say THERE ARE A LADY AND GENTLEMAN IN THE ROOM, not THERE IS A LADY AND A GENTLEMAN IN THE ROOM. I notice that one gentleman agrees with you. Hopefully, others will join this debate.

  7. #7
    TheParser is online now Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    4,888
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: there be sentences

    Quote Originally Posted by Linguist__ View Post
    Really?! My goodness, I need to reasses my own language skills . I would have bet a lot of money on the answer being "There is a light bulb and a screwdriver in the drawer"!
    Dear Linguist: Here is a citation that is a win/win for both sides. WRITING WITH A PURPOSE by James M. McCrimmon says: When "there" begins a sentence, the verb agrees with the subject that follows: There ARE a man and a boy in that boat. BUT he adds: This usage is not strictly observed in speech. (P. S. I have reread the poster's message and observed that s/he admits the answer is ARE, for that is apparently what s/he was taught. S/he wants to know why, for -- perhaps -- s/he has often heard "is" in "loose" speech. Hope you haven't bet too much money yet!)

  8. #8
    Abstract Idea is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Interested in Language
      • Native Language:
      • Portuguese
      • Home Country:
      • Brazil
      • Current Location:
      • Brazil
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    1,512
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: there be sentences

    Whoever wins the bet should share the prize with the UsingEnglish users!
    We deserve it !

  9. #9
    Linguist__ is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    576
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: there be sentences

    About what you said - "THERE is not taken as the subject of the verb". I have been taught that 'There' in 'there is' is a kind of pronoun, much like 'dummy it' in "It is raining".

    From Cambridge Grammar of English: "The so-called empty it and existential there do not refer to any object or entity. They are used as dummy subject forms (since a subject is required in non-imperative clauses) and refer generally to situations"

    I can't say, grammatically, why I think it is singular as I don't have the grammatical knowledge. Perhaps because you can alter the sentence to say "There is a screwdriver in the drawer, and there is a lightbulb in the drawer." I have no idea.

    Also, what you said -

    "BUT if the first subject is singular and the second subject is plural, then most books approve a singular verb for the sake of sound: There is one light bulb and three screwdrivers"

    - seems strange to me. For if both are singular (one lightbulb and one screwdriver) then it is plural (are), however if the first is singular and the second is plural (one lightbulb and three screwdrivers) then the verb is singular (is). With no real grammatical knowledge, this just seem irrational to me: if the rule for when one is plural is "take the first item, if it is singular then the verb is singular", then surely the fact that the first object in 'a screwdriver and a lightbulb' is singular makes this rule apply here too?

    I genuinely have no idea, and am merely looking at it rationally. Although, grammar is hardly mathematical!

  10. #10
    Abstract Idea is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Interested in Language
      • Native Language:
      • Portuguese
      • Home Country:
      • Brazil
      • Current Location:
      • Brazil
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    1,512
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: there be sentences

    Quote Originally Posted by Linguist__ View Post
    Although, grammar is hardly mathematical!
    If it were ... !!

Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Example Sentences for English Words
    By sonicstaars in forum General Language Discussions
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 05-May-2010, 02:44
  2. The sentences above/below are correct
    By user_gary in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 07-Jun-2009, 08:12
  3. Are these sentences wrong?
    By Dawood Usmani in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 23-Jun-2008, 03:15
  4. Are these sentences correct?
    By samfat33 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 28-Oct-2007, 22:08
  5. Are sentences correct?
    By kohyoongliat in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 29-May-2007, 10:41

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Hotchalk