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Could you explain why "are " is the key to the following sentence?
There (is, are) a light bulb and a screwdriver in the drawer.
The rule, as you will gather, is slightly more complicated than is sometimes taught, but not so complicated that it should cause such persistent problems.
Let us take a look at this sentence pattern:
This sentence has two subjects:There be X and Y.
1. the expletive, number-invariant, singular 'there'; this is the structural subject because it occupies the subject territory
2. X and Y = compound (two items (X and Y) are coordinated) 'deep' or 'true' subject; true, because the state of existence expressed by the verb 'be' is associated with 'X and Y' and not with 'there'
There are two rules for subject-verb agreement that we tend to follow:
- the number of the verb is in agreement with the number of the grammatical subject (grammatical concord)
- agreement with the deep subject (notional concord)