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  1. #1
    Winwin2011 is offline Senior Member
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    Red face There is/are a cake and some sandwiches in the basket.

    Are the following sentences correct?

    1.There is a cake and some sandwiches in the basket.
    2.There are some sandwiches and a cake in the basket.

    Is the following sentence incorrect?

    3.There are a cake and some sandwiches in the basket.

    Thanks.
    Last edited by Winwin2011; 12-Aug-2012 at 15:20.

  2. #2
    hhaapp42 is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: There is/are a cake and some sandwiches in the basket.

    1. is incorrect.
    2 and 3 are OK.

    There are two things, a cake and some sandwiches, in the sentence.
    So you should use "are" not "is."

  3. #3
    Winwin2011 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: There is/are a cake and some sandwiches in the basket.

    Quote Originally Posted by hhaapp42 View Post
    1. is incorrect.
    2 and 3 are OK.

    There are two things, a cake and some sandwiches, in the sentence.
    So you should use "are" not "is."
    Hi hhaapp42,

    Yes, I agree with you.

    1. There is a cake and some sandwiches in the basket.

    The above sentence is copied from a Grammar exercise book. I wonder if it is correct.

  4. #4
    bhaisahab's Avatar
    bhaisahab is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: There is/are a cake and some sandwiches in the basket.

    1.There is a cake and some sandwiches in the basket.
    2.There are some sandwiches and a cake in the basket.
    These two are correct.

  5. #5
    Rover_KE is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: There is/are a cake and some sandwiches in the basket.

    Quote Originally Posted by hhaapp42 View Post
    1. is incorrect.
    2 and 3 are OK.

    There are two things, a cake and some sandwiches, in the sentence.
    So you should use "are" not "is."
    hhaapp, please read this extact from the Posting Guidelines:

    'You are welcome to answer questions posted in the Ask a Teacher forum as long as your suggestions, help, and advice reflect a good understanding of the English language. If you are not a teacher, you will need to state that clearly at the top of your post.'

    On this occasion your reply was incorrect.

    Rover

  6. #6
    Winwin2011 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: There is/are a cake and some sandwiches in the basket.

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    1.There is a cake and some sandwiches in the basket.
    2.There are some sandwiches and a cake in the basket.
    These two are correct.
    Does it mean that the verb to be (is/are) following 'there' should agree with its compliment ie. a cake or some sandwiches? If the answer is 'yes, does it mean that the verb to be (is/are) following 'there' should not agree with "a cake and some sandwiches" (which might be seen as two phrases)?

    Thanks for your help!

  7. #7
    Rover_KE is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: There is/are a cake and some sandwiches in the basket.

    Normally, the verb agrees with its nearest complement.

    'There is an apple and three pears in the fruit bowl.'

    'On the desk were three pens and a pencil.'

    'In my pocket there is a key and a few coins.'

    However, this does not apply when the sentence is inverted, and the complements become the subjects:

    'Two dogs and a cat were in the kitchen.'

    Rover

  8. #8
    TheParser is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: There is/are a cake and some sandwiches in the basket.

    Quote Originally Posted by Winwin2011 View Post

    Is the following sentence incorrect?

    3.There are a cake and some sandwiches in the basket.
    NOT A TEACHER


    Hello, winwin:


    1. The question that you have asked always causes much vigorous debate on grammar helplines.

    2. According to some books, "There are a cake and some sandwiches in the

    basket" is correct (as hhaapp told us).

    a. The reasoning goes like this:

    i. In analyzing a sentence, we should forget the word "there."

    ii. Thus, we have: "A cake and some sandwiches are in the basket."

    3. NEVERTHELESS, in the real world of native speakers, most (?) speakers prefer "is" because the first item in your

    sentence ("a cake") is singular. To most native speakers (especially in speech), "There is a cake [and some

    sandwiches]" sounds more natural than "There are a cake [and some sandwiches]."

    4. I think that most fair-minded teachers avoid this kind of question on a test because there are two "correct"

    answers.

    5. I suggest that you follow the guidance of the other posters and say "There IS a cake and some sandwiches."

    But if you read a sentence such as "There are a cake and some sandwiches in the basket," please remember that

    it is not "incorrect" -- according to some reputable sources.

    6. Here is an example:

    "There were a yacht, a plane, a motor launch and weekends with Princess ____ and Lord ____."

    Here is the explanation: "The were is unarguably correct [my emphasis], but, as we said, some writers prefer a

    singular verb in a series such as that in which the first item is singular, and their preference is not usually disputed."

    ( Dos, Don'ts & Maybes of English Usage (1977) by Mr. Theodore M. Bernstein (who worked at The New York Times for

    many years.)


    HAVE A NICE DAY!
    Last edited by TheParser; 12-Aug-2012 at 10:40.

  9. #9
    hhaapp42 is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: There is/are a cake and some sandwiches in the basket.

    NOT A TEACHER

    Sorry that I didn't notice the Posting Guidelines.
    After searching for similar topics on the Internet, I've come to the following conclusion.

    There is a cake and some sandwiches. (the only correct way in BrE)

    There is / are a cake and some sandwiches.
    (both are correct in AmE; "is": more colloquial and common; "are": more formal)

    Am I right?

    I've been taught to answer "is" on the test.
    However, I believe that languages are living things, so maybe this rule has been out-of-date?

    Some useful information:

    Webster's Dictionary of English Usage points out that there is a "...long-standing propensity for there is or there's in every case, even when the following subject is clearly plural and there are no complications to cloud our minds. Jespersen finds the same construction in Danish, Russian, and Italian, and dates it back in English to the 15th century."

    Jespersen notes that the invariable singular occurs mostly in the colloquial style -- speech and speechlike prose -- and is generally avoided in the literary style. That observation accords with our evidence."

    Source: englishforums - Q: There is /are (posted by rvw)
    --------------------
    'Merriam-Webster 'Guide to English Usage' states as follows:

    When a compound subject follows the verb and the first element is singular, the verb 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 formal agreement and use a plural verb: There were an apartment house and a parking lot at the end of the block.

    Source: englishforums - Q: These are a cat and a dog... ummm? (posted by Yoong Liat)

    -----------
    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.)

    Source: englishforums - Q: There is OR There are a boy, a girl and an old man...? (posted by Yoong Liat)

  10. #10
    bhaisahab's Avatar
    bhaisahab is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: There is/are a cake and some sandwiches in the basket.

    "There are a dog and a few cats in the house."
    With all due respect to Merriam Webster the above seems completely wrong to me.

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