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  1. #1
    Teia is offline Key Member
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    Default subject - verb agreement

    Hi

    Could you, please, help me with the following sentence?
    I am not sure if it is grammatically correct

    When the children all left home, there was only Brenda and Oliver left in the big house.

    Should I use there were instead of there was? If I follow the rule, then I should use there was because the first noun coming after the word there is Brenda, but I think that I have to take into consideration the fact that there are two people : Brenda and Oliver. Still, I am not sure. What`s your opinion on that?

    Thank you very much.
    Last edited by Teia; 24-Feb-2008 at 14:36.

  2. #2
    2006 is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: subject - verb agreement

    Quote Originally Posted by Teia View Post
    Hi

    Could you, please, help me with the following sentence?
    I am not sure if it is grammatically correct

    When the children all left home, there was only Brenda and Oliver left in the big house.

    Sould I use there were instead of there was? If I follow the rule, then I should use there was because the first noun coming after the word there is Brenda, but I think that I have to take into consideration the fact that there are two people : Brenda and Oliver. Still, I am not sure. What`s your opinion on that?
    "there were" is correct, although many native speakers would say "there was".
    Thank you very much.
    2006

  3. #3
    Teia is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: subject - verb agreement

    Quote Originally Posted by 2006 View Post
    2006
    Hi 2006!

    Thank you very much for your answer.
    I understand that there were is the grammatically correct answer, but there are many native speakers who use there was instead of there were.
    If I were to take part in an exam on subject - verb agreement and supposing I have to solve such a sentence, then the only correct answer in this case is there were, isn`t it?

    Thank you very much, again.

  4. #4
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    RedMtl is offline Member
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    Smile Re: subject - verb agreement

    Quote Originally Posted by Teia View Post
    Hi

    Could you, please, help me with the following sentence?
    I am not sure if it is grammatically correct

    When the children all left home, there was only Brenda and Oliver left in the big house.

    Sould I use there were instead of there was? If I follow the rule, then I should use there was because the first noun coming after the word there is Brenda, but I think that I have to take into consideration the fact that there are two people : Brenda and Oliver. Still, I am not sure. What`s your opinion on that?

    Thank you very much.
    In a situation like this, I usually recommend to learners that they re-write the sentence to avoid the problem. This stems in part from the fact that singular and plural don't necessarily correspond across languages. (In German, for example, one would definitely use the singular equivalent to "there was" ["es gab"]; English has a rather annoying tendency to be inconsistent in this.)

    Thus, a rewording of the sentence avoids the problem.

    Try: "After all the children had left home, only Breanda and Oliver were left to live in the big house."

    Hope this helps!

  5. #5
    2006 is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: subject - verb agreement

    Quote Originally Posted by Teia View Post
    Hi 2006!

    Thank you very much for your answer.
    I understand that there were is the grammatically correct answer, but there are many native speakers who use there was instead of there were.
    If I were to take part in an exam on subject - verb agreement and supposing I have to solve such a sentence, then the only correct answer in this case is there were, isn`t it? Yes, I would say so.
    Thank you very much, again.
    2006

  6. #6
    Teia is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: subject - verb agreement

    Hi Red Mtl

    Thank you very much for your help.

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