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  1. #1
    shane is offline Senior Member
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    Default There are air and water on earth

    Is this sentence right? I would have thought "There is air and water on earth" to be better, as 'air' and 'water' are uncountable.

    Can anyone help?

    TIA

    Shane

  2. #2
    Red5 is offline Webmaster, UsingEnglish.com
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    I agree with you Shane. It should be is. :D
    Red5
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  3. #3
    shane is offline Senior Member
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    Excellent. I can't believe that a native speaker had been paid to record this sentence for an English instruction book in China :(

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Some would argure that there are two things and that the verb should be plural. In modern BE, however, the use of the plural sounds very strange. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's wrong, but I would never use the plural there. :D

  5. #5
    RonBee's Avatar
    RonBee is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: There are air and water on earth

    Quote Originally Posted by shane
    Is this sentence right? I would have thought "There is air and water on earth" to be better, as 'air' and 'water' are uncountable.
    Perhaps I can supply an AE perspective. IMO, it should be: "There is air and water on earth." Similiary, one might say, "There is food and drink available."

    "There are air and water on earth" is not good.

    8)

  6. #6
    shane is offline Senior Member
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    Thanks a lot guys, really appreciate it.
    I agree to tdol's comments: "I wouldn't go so far as to say it's wrong, but I would never use the plural there."

    IMO, grammar should never be regarded as the be all and end all of a language. Sometimes even grammar is not 100% correct when used in a real life situation.

    I had an argument with a Chinese English teacher yesterday about this sentence. Now, I am not criticising him in any way, but of course, not having had much experience in English language interaction in China, he was looking at this sentence from a purely grammatical perspective. When I told him that native English speakers would use 'is' and not 'are', he would not accept it. From a grammatical point of view, maybe 'are' is correct. but in general, everyday English, it's not right.

    That's my view, anyway :)

    Shane

  7. #7
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    A sentence like 'There are a man and a woman waiting to see you' is grammatical, but I cannot imagine many native speakers coming out with it. :(

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    A sentence like 'There are a man and a woman waiting to see you' is grammatical, but I cannot imagine many native speakers coming out with it. :(
    I think I might have an explanation for that. If I say "There is a man and a woman" I am linking them, making them a pair. Also, the choice of verb might have something to do with the fact that both "man" and "woman" are singular. "There are a man...." just doesn't seem natural. I think most people would naturally say "There is a man and a woman" and not think twice about it.

    Finally, it could perhaps be seen as an elliptical sentence, thus: "There is a man and [there is] a woman."

    What do you think?

    8)

  9. #9
    John D Guest

    Default There are earth and water.

    The sentence should be considered incorrect because the author has disregarded the fact that because he used "are", he must then quantify or explain the noun. i.e. There are vast amounts of water and air on earth. Not just leave readers to their own imagination.

  10. #10
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    Default John D

    Hey! John D, I've only seen two of your posts so far, but I have found them enjoyable and informative. Welcome to the forum!

    :D

    8)

    Regards,

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