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    #1

    there was & there were (all kinds)

    Is the sentence
    (a) "There was all kinds of food on the table"
    grammatically correct?
    Shouldn't it read
    (b) "There were all kinds of food on the table" ?
    What about the final 's' on kinds ? If we say
    (c) "There was/were all kind of food on the table"
    is it ok?

    I have found the first sentence (a), exactly as it stands, on an ESL book.
    I remember on that time (I didn't know yet this forum), I researched on
    some grammar books and decided that (b) was the correct way, although
    in AmE (a) could be acceptable. By the way, the mentined ESL book was an American one.

    Now that I know this wonderful forum, I share the problem and ask your advice on the subject.

    P.S.: Please feel free to correct any mistakes of mine on this post.

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    #2

    Re: there was & there were (all kinds)

    Although it is possible, especially in BrE, for a singular NP functioning as quantifier to a plural NP to govern the verb in the plural, e.g.

    A group of demonstrators have entered the building.

    (where most AmE speakers would probably prefer 'has entered...'), the converse is not. Thus we cannot, in any variety of English, have e.g.

    *Several groups of demonstrators has entered the building.

    or, for that matter,

    *Many kinds of food was on the table.

    And since the number of the verb in a 'there is/are' construction is always the same as it would be in the canonical form of the sentence,

    *There was many kinds of food on the table.

    is clearly ungrammatical.

    The correct version of your sentence is therefore

    There were many kinds of food on the table.


    • Join Date: Jul 2009
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    #3

    Smile Re: there was & there were (all kinds)

    Quote Originally Posted by ymnisky View Post
    Is the sentence
    (a) "There was all kinds of food on the table"
    grammatically correct?
    Shouldn't it read
    (b) "There were all kinds of food on the table" ?
    What about the final 's' on kinds ? If we say
    (c) "There was/were all kind of food on the table"
    is it ok?

    I have found the first sentence (a), exactly as it stands, on an ESL book.
    I remember on that time (I didn't know yet this forum), I researched on
    some grammar books and decided that (b) was the correct way, although
    in AmE (a) could be acceptable. By the way, the mentined ESL book was an American one.

    Now that I know this wonderful forum, I share the problem and ask your advice on the subject.

    P.S.: Please feel free to correct any mistakes of mine on this post.
    Some people say "there was" and "there is" when, as I see it, they should really use the plural forms "there were" and "there are". I'm not sure how often this occurs, exactly. I prefer to use "there are" or "there were", the plural forms, when they are followed by a plural noun, and this is what I advise students to do. However, as it seems kind of common for some speakers to use "there's" instead of "there are" it would likely not receive too much attention as an error. Just the same, I would use "there's", "there was", "there are", and "there were" accordingly - depending on whether the noun is singular or plural. Your assessment of this topic is correct. You are right to call into question what you read in this particular ESL book.

    I would say "there was all kinds of food on the table" is correct to the extent that it woulld go unnoticed most of the time, though I wouldn't advise saying it that way. I suppose one could say it's acceptable in conversation by some, or most, people some or most of the time.

    As for "kinds of food", keep the s with "kind" - There were all kinds of food on the table. - There was every kind of food on the table.

    Last edited by PROESL; 14-Aug-2009 at 04:14.

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    #4

    Re: there was & there were (all kinds)

    Thanks philo2009 and PROESL for your wise answers.
    I will remember them next time I teach my students the referred lesson on that ESL book.

    But please philo2009, on

    Quote Originally Posted by philo2009 View Post
    Although it is possible, especially in BrE, for a singular NP functioning as quantifier to a plural NP to govern the verb in the plural
    what do you exactly mean by NP ?

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    #5

    Re: there was & there were (all kinds)

    Quote Originally Posted by ymnisky View Post
    Thanks philo2009 and PROESL for your wise answers.
    I will remember them next time I teach my students the referred lesson on that ESL book.

    But please philo2009, on



    what do you exactly mean by NP ?
    Sorry, linguists' jargon!
    NP = noun phrase (noun, or phrase headed by one)

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