Results 1 to 8 of 8
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • Taiwan
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Mar 2010
    • Posts: 31
    #1

    There is/There are

    Hi

    I was told that I should have used 'was' instead of 'were' for the following sentences, but there are more than 2 items..Can someone please shed some light?

    There 'was' an apple and an orange on the table
    There 'was' no light and no water last night

    thanks !

    curious mind


    • Join Date: Dec 2009
    • Posts: 576
    #2

    Re: There is/There are

    Quote Originally Posted by curiousmind View Post
    Hi

    I was told that I should have used 'was' instead of 'were' for the following sentences, but there are more than 2 items..Can someone please shed some light?

    There 'was' an apple and an orange on the table
    There 'was' no light and no water last night

    thanks !

    curious mind
    (Not a teacher)

    You've brought up quite a contentious matter between English users - how the number of the verb should relate to the number of the object/subject.

    In your case though, it's simply because it is two noun phrases joined together using 'and'. That is, both noun phrases correspond to one verb (and one prepositional phrase - on the table). The sentence is really:

    'There was an apple on the table and there was an orange on the table.'

    You are just paraphrasing this into one clause, rather than two clauses using the same verb. The verb is talking about one apple, and one orange, so it's a singular verb.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • Taiwan
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Mar 2010
    • Posts: 31
    #3

    Re: There is/There are

    Thanks for your explanation....otherwise I will never figure it out..

    make sense to me.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Laos

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 57,884
    #4

    Re: There is/There are

    It is an issue where there is disagreement- some will argue that the verb should be plural in your example as there are two nouns, others use the argument above or the proximity principle, where having a plural verb followed by a singular noun clashes, as the basis for using a singular verb. I would use was there too.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • Taiwan
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Mar 2010
    • Posts: 31
    #5

    Re: There is/There are

    Indeed, I checked the online resource and my practical english usage book, but I can not find any information. If you guys see it, please let me know.

    same as "There was no light and no water last night" even though there are 2 nouns, but because there is a word "no", so it becomes singular?

    thanks!


    • Join Date: Dec 2009
    • Posts: 576
    #6

    Re: There is/There are

    Quote Originally Posted by curiousmind View Post
    same as "There was no light and no water last night" even though there are 2 nouns, but because there is a word "no", so it becomes singular?

    thanks!
    With or without 'no', it is still singular for me:

    'There was light and water last night.'
    'There was no light and water last night'

    As Tdol pointed out, there are people who would agree with you in saying that it should be plural verb, but I think most people follow the idea that if the object immediately after the verb is singular, the verb is singular:

    There was an apple and an orange. - singular noun after verb, so singular verb
    There were two apples and an orange. - plural after verb, so plural verb.
    There was an apple and two oranges. - singular after verb, so singular verb, even though the second noun is plural and would take a plural verb in it's own sentence.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • Taiwan
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Mar 2010
    • Posts: 31
    #7

    Re: There is/There are

    GOT IT!

    so tricky!!!

    thanks a million!!!

  1. kfredson's Avatar

    • Join Date: Dec 2009
    • Posts: 700
    #8

    Re: There is/There are

    Quote Originally Posted by curiousmind View Post
    Hi

    I was told that I should have used 'was' instead of 'were' for the following sentences, but there are more than 2 items..Can someone please shed some light?

    There 'was' an apple and an orange on the table
    There 'was' no light and no water last night

    thanks !

    curious mind
    Yes, there has been a lively discussion of this point. See
    https://www.usingenglish.com/forum/a...sentences.html

Similar Threads

  1. [Grammar] There is/There are with total
    By jmsflorida in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 11-Feb-2009, 18:14
  2. there is/there are
    By zoja in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 26-Mar-2008, 08:25
  3. there is/there was/will be/is going to be/
    By carla guaraldi in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 18-Sep-2007, 12:31
  4. There is/there are with 'a lot of'
    By queenbu in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 27
    Last Post: 08-Mar-2007, 10:50
  5. There is/there are
    By scottishlad in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 27-Oct-2006, 05:32

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •