Results 1 to 10 of 10
  1. #1
    kahhong is offline Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Interested in Language
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Malaysia
      • Current Location:
      • Malaysia
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    431
    Post Thanks / Like

    Exclamation Plural and Singular

    Hi,
    This sentense
    if there are/is any problem
    what are the differences when we use are instead of is
    because of "If" could i use if i there were/was a problem..."
    what does it mean again?
    thanks.


    Warmest Regards,
    -kahhong

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Posts
    12,971
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Plural and Singular

    There two kinds of theres:

    (1) The adverb there. It answers the question Where?:

    EX: The dog is over there. Where? There.

    (2) Expletive there. It represents a semantically empty subject. That is, it doesn't contribute meaning to the sentence. Its function is structural. It acts as the subject:

    EX: There is a dog over there.
    EX: There are dogs over there.

    Expletive there functions as a subject, but it doesn't agree in number with the verb. Notice in our examples above that There is followed by a singular verb (is) and a plural verb (are). You see, with expletive there sentences, the word that comes after the verb agrees with the verb, like this:

    EX: There is a dog over there.
    EX: There are dogs over there.
    EX: If there are problems, please let me know.
    EX: If there is a problem, please let me know.

    Hope that helps.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    671
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Plural and Singular

    Quote Originally Posted by kahhong
    Hi,
    This sentense
    if there are/is any problem
    what are the differences when we use are instead of is
    because of "If" could i use if i there were/was a problem..."
    what does it mean again?
    thanks.
    Warmest Regards,
    -kahhong
    I think that the confusion you have is related to the subjunctive mood in English, which can be used in an 'if' clause. Most native speakers have similar confusions because subjunctives are rarely used in modern English.

    Let me try to explain the "subjunctive if" clause:

    Imagine I ask you the question "Is there any problem?" or "Are there any problems?"

    You might answer:

    A) "If there was any problem, I would tell you."
    B) "If there were any problems, I would tell you."
    C) "If there were any problem, I would tell you."
    D) "If there were any problems, I would tell you."

    I know B) and D) look the same, but actually they are not.

    "there was"/"there were" are just the singular and plural indicative mood forms. Use "there was X" if X is singular, and use "there were X" if X is plural.

    Traditional English grammar dictates that the subjunctive mood ("were" for the verb "to be" in both singular and plural) should be used if the speaker's belief is that the conjecture is false, and the indicative mood ("was" or "were" depending on number) should be used otherwise.

    In other words, if I believe that there is no problem I use C) or D). If I believe there is a problem (or I don't have an opinion either way), I use A) or B).

    You will find very many educated native English speakers who are not aware of this distinction though. That is why the usage is inconsistent.

  4. #4
    kahhong is offline Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Interested in Language
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Malaysia
      • Current Location:
      • Malaysia
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    431
    Post Thanks / Like

    Question Re: Plural and Singular

    thank coffa..
    But im still confused between
    1-0) "If there was any problem, I would tell you."
    1-1) "If there were any problems, I would tell you."
    And
    2-0) "If there is any problem, I will tell you."
    2-1) "If there are any problems, I will tell you."
    Besides plural and singular differences, are they any other different?
    they are past and present "be verb"...
    Last edited by kahhong; 06-Mar-2006 at 13:36. Reason: Typing Error

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Posts
    12,971
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Plural and Singular

    What about?

    1-0) "If there was any problem, I would tell you."
    => "was" expresses the indicative. It indicates a real or factual situation. For example, You know that if there really, truly was a problem with the computer I would tell you.

    1-1) "If there were any problems, I would tell you."
    => "were" expresses the subjunctive. It represents a hypothetical situation. For example, If I were rich, I'd buy a car, but I am not rich.

    2-0) "If there is any problem, I will tell you."
    => "is" expresses the simple present. It represents a present fact, truth. Grammar note, usually "any" doesn't modify a singular noun, but with the noun "problem", it works. The reason being, "any problem" is short for "any one problem among a set of things that could be potential problems."

    2-1) "If there are any problems, I will tell you."
    => "are" is the plural form of "is" (See 2-0). Note, subject-verb agreement: the subject agrees in number with the verb.

    problem (singular noun) + is/was (singular verb)
    problems (plural noun) + are/were (plural verb)

    Hope that helps.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    671
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Plural and Singular

    Quote Originally Posted by kahhong
    thank coffa..
    But im still confused between
    1-0) "If there was any problem, I would tell you."
    1-1) "If there were any problems, I would tell you."
    And
    2-0) "If there is any problem, I will tell you."
    2-1) "If there are any problems, I will tell you."
    Besides plural and singular differences, are they any other different?
    they are past and present "be verb"...
    Let me try to put the examples in a larger context:

    Jill is discussing their daughter Jane's schooling with her husband Jack:

    Jill : "Jack, I tried talking to Jane's teacher today about her being unhappy in school, but she wouldn't tell me anything. Will you call her?"

    Jack : "OK. But I think Jane is fine, and I'm sure if there were a problem, her teacher would tell you about it straightaway."

    Jill : "After you've spoken to her, will you tell me honestly if you think there is a problem?"

    Jack speaks to Jane's teacher on the phone for five minutes...

    Jack (to Jill, looking worried) : "You know, I didn't believe it before, but I think there was a problem last week, and we weren't told about it.

    Jill : "If there was a problem, why didn't her teacher tell us about it straightaway?"

    Jack : "I don't know, but I'm going to call that teacher again next week, and if I think there are still any problems then, I shall ask to speak to the headmistress."

    Does this make it any clearer for you?

  7. #7
    kahhong is offline Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Interested in Language
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Malaysia
      • Current Location:
      • Malaysia
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    431
    Post Thanks / Like

    Wink Re: Plural and Singular

    Thanks Coffa and moderatoR!!...


    I think i have the idea about it...!~@

    thanK again!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Posts
    12,971
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Plural and Singular

    You're most welcome, kahhong. Glad we could help.

  9. #9
    riverkid is offline Banned
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    3,064
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Plural and Singular

    Quote Originally Posted by Coffa View Post
    Traditional English grammar dictates that the subjunctive mood ("were" for the verb "to be" in both singular and plural) should be used if the speaker's belief is that the conjecture is false, and the indicative mood ("was" or "were" depending on number) should be used otherwise.

    Here we have the age old problem. Prescriptions which say "should". "should' simply expresses one's opinion. But what students need more than opinions are facts, facts about how language actually works.

    "If I was a cat" entails that "I'm not a cat" in exactly the same way "If I were a cat" entails that "I am not a cat". In this case, the indicative and the subjunctive are identical in meaning.

    They are both being used to discuss in the subjunctive "mood".



    You will find very many educated native English speakers who are not aware of this distinction though. That is why the usage is inconsistent.
    I'm afraid, Coffa, that the distinction doesn't ALWAYS exist. Usage withi language is perfectly consistent, the "rule" is simply inconsistent with language.

    I say 'always' because in certain situations, ENLs make that distinction.

    Every ENL is unconsciously aware of the distinction Coffa discussed and they are also aware that most often that particular distinction is not there in the context. The problem has always been that prescriptivists were not aware of how this distinction actually works.

    "If I was Coffa" cannot possibly mean, EVER, that I was once Coffa and yet this is the sole argument used for this supposed distinction.



    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea View Post
    What about?

    1-0) "If there was any problem, I would tell you."
    => "was" expresses the indicative. It indicates a real or factual situation. For example, You know that if there really, truly was a problem with the computer I would tell you.

    What Casiopea stated here may be the case, but it's not only what she states. Both

    "If there was any problem, ..." and "If there were any problems" are hypotheticals. And they both can describe an identical situation even if that situation is/was/were a complete counterfactual.


    1-1) "If there were any problems, I would tell you."
    => "were" expresses the subjunctive. It represents a hypothetical situation. For example, If I were rich, I'd buy a car, but I am not rich.

    "If I was rich, I'd buy a car" holds an identical meaning to Casiopea's, "If I were rich, I'd buy a car". Both entail/mean that "I am not rich, I won't buy a car".

    The main problem is that people often mistakenly believe that a subjunctive can't SOMETIMES be used to discuss more real or factual situations. They mistakenly believe that subjunctives are always counterfactuals of the variety, "If I were/was a bird, I could fly."

    In fact, many, if not most counterfactuals are described without subjunctives.

    If I went/lived/breathed in CO2; ...

    None of these are subjunctive forms. The subjunctive forms are remnants of a dead system. They still function in English but for every subjunctive there is at least one other way to state the same thing in a NON-subjunctive manner.

    "If I go" can mean, in context, the same as "If I went". People might use the latter to express more doubt or even give the appearance that there is more doubt even when they have every intention of going.
    $
    Last edited by riverkid; 28-Aug-2006 at 00:45.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    150
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Plural and Singular

    Quote Originally Posted by Coffa View Post
    Let me try to put the examples in a larger context:
    Jill is discussing their daughter Jane's schooling with her husband Jack:
    Jill : "Jack, I tried talking to Jane's teacher today about her being unhappy in school, but she wouldn't tell me anything. Will you call her?"
    Jack : "OK. But I think Jane is fine, and I'm sure if there were a problem, her teacher would tell you about it straightaway."
    Jill : "After you've spoken to her, will you tell me honestly if you think there is a problem?"
    Jack speaks to Jane's teacher on the phone for five minutes...
    Jack (to Jill, looking worried) : "You know, I didn't believe it before, but I think there was a problem last week, and we weren't told about it.
    Jill : "If there was a problem, why didn't her teacher tell us about it straightaway?"
    Jack : "I don't know, but I'm going to call that teacher again next week, and if I think there are still any problems then, I shall ask to speak to the headmistress."
    Does this make it any clearer for you?
    Your explanation is very clear.

Similar Threads

  1. Plural Or Singular PART2
    By kahhong in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 05-Mar-2006, 11:58
  2. SINGULAR NOUN of NOUNS that PLURAL VERB
    By piggy386 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 28-Aug-2005, 12:39
  3. Singular or plural form of "to be"
    By Nordic Bill in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 17-Aug-2005, 22:34
  4. verbs
    By eyescold_07 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 08-Aug-2005, 06:32
  5. Is 'manners' plural or singular?
    By peppy_man in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 11-Jun-2005, 23:53

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