Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 11
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Singapore
      • Current Location:
      • Singapore

    • Join Date: Jan 2006
    • Posts: 55
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #1

    is or are?

    Should it be "is" or "are" in the following sentence?

    1. There is/are a cooler and a cooker in the room.

    2. There is/are a letter for Jane and a message for Christy.


    Thanks for your help

  1. Hayseed's Avatar

    • Join Date: Nov 2005
    • Posts: 65
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #2

    Smile Re: is or are?

    spenser, "is" works in both cases. Sentences that can use "are" may look like this:
    "There are coolers and a cooker in the room."
    "There are letters for Jane and a message for Christy."

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Singapore
      • Current Location:
      • Singapore

    • Join Date: Jan 2006
    • Posts: 55
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #3

    Re: is or are?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hayseed
    spenser, "is" works in both cases. Sentences that can use "are" may look like this:
    "There are coolers and a cooker in the room."
    "There are letters for Jane and a message for Christy."
    Please forgive me if I sound awfully ignorant: in the first sentence, for instance, there are two things --- a cooler and a cooker. Shouldn't the verb, therefore, be "are"? What about the following sentence?

    1. There ____ a ruler, a pencil, an eraser, a sharpener and a nail clipper on the table.

    As to the second sentence, what if the scenario had been something like the following?

    2.Sgt John: "Cpl Mary, have we found anything that would be of interest to us?"

    Cpl Mary: "Well, there _____ a letter to James, a message on the fridge for his son, Vincent, a pen knife on the floor and some marbles in the chair".


    Once again, please forgive me if I sound silly. I am basing whatever that I say here on what I had been taught at school very long time ago. I was told that if many (countable) things follow "There", the verb should invariably be in the plural.

    Please help clear my doubts.
    Last edited by spenser; 03-Jan-2006 at 16:12.

  2. Hayseed's Avatar

    • Join Date: Nov 2005
    • Posts: 65
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #4

    Re: is or are?

    Spenser, you don`t sound silly at all. If you had the answers, you wouldn`t be asking for them in this forum. Would you?
    Again, "is" works in your new sentences. I`m sorry I can`t give you a technical explanation as to when "is" or "are" should be used. I only respond as a native speaker, not a teacher. Perhaps a mod will weigh in with an explanation that will clear up the confusion for you.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • Canada

    • Join Date: Sep 2005
    • Posts: 92
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #5

    Re: is or are?

    Spenser:
    Your dilemma with "there is/are" is understandable.
    However, its idiomatic use before plurals is quite common - and acceptable. We all do this in the spoken language. It's only when it appears in print that we have pause to think about it. That's when we begin to worry about subject/verb agreement etc, etc - all the things drilled into our heads back in school!
    But basing the spoken language on the written one is really a case of the tail wagging the dog. The "there is/here is" construction is in widespread use and has been for a long time.
    I supect it might have originated in extemporaneous speech, where we are unlikely to be "thinking ahead" about subject/verb agreement, particularly when the order is effectively reversed.
    Another possibility is that it represents a form of ellipsis (where words are dropped but meaning retained).
    Consider:
    There is a dog, [there is] a cat and [there is] a rabbit.
    There is a dog, a cat and a rabbit.
    Grammar is a fine thing; but grammar serves language and not vice-versa.
    JJM

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

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 52,334
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #6

    Re: is or are?

    Quote Originally Posted by spenser
    I am basing whatever that I say here on what I had been taught at school very long time ago. I was told that if many (countable) things follow "There", the verb should invariably be in the plural.

    Please help clear my doubts.
    There are two approaches to this- the traditional method, the one you were taught, was to use a plural when more than one item was listed. however, many speakers happily use a singular verb because it sounds better coming before a singular items, even if one of a number in a list. This is sometimes called 'proximity', where the grammar is affected by words close together rather than the overall phrase. I would say that both are OK, but I hear the singualr used a lot more, especially in British English, where we often take a very relaxed approach to singular and plural issues. I also agree completely with JJM that grammar serves language not the other way round.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Singapore
      • Current Location:
      • Singapore

    • Join Date: Jan 2006
    • Posts: 55
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #7

    Re: is or are?

    Hayseed, JJM Ballantyne and tdol,

    I thank you all for your patience and help.

    From your answers, I infer that according to strict grammar rules (or at least from the point of prescriptive rules), "are" should be the correct verb. However, modern usage has permitted the use of "is". Am I right?

    I believe this is quite similar to the usage of "fewer/less". During my school days, I learnt that anything that is countable should be quantified by "fewer", and the rest by "less". But today, people are not generally concerned about this distinction. For instance,

    "...possibly less than 100 agencies are operating...."

    In the above sentence, I have now been told that "less" is acceptable; and some quarters even think that, that is the only correct form. By the same token, while I write, "You see, the problem can be solved if either of you is pious or religious. But the problem is, neither of you is.", my friend replaces "is" with "are". I go by the grammar that I was taught, but he goes by what, he says, is "natural".

    Please correct me if I am wrong. Once again, I thank you for putting up with me.
    Last edited by spenser; 05-Jan-2006 at 00:24.

  3. Hayseed's Avatar

    • Join Date: Nov 2005
    • Posts: 65
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #8

    Cool Re: is or are?

    Quote Originally Posted by spenser
    he goes by what, he says, is "natural".
    Right, that`s what I go by as well . My opinion is that many members of this site (not necessarily you, spencer) are too concerned with getting every possible aspect of the English language "perfect", and do not pay enough attention to how the language is used "naturally" by native speakers. I`d much rather get advice from a native speaker (and have) when learning a foreign language than to try to decipher a load of "cryptic" text & grammar rules from some book. Certainly instruction books are useful, but they do have limitations.


    • Join Date: Jan 2006
    • Posts: 137
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #9

    Re: is or are?

    Indeed Hayseed, there is nothing more than getting the advice of a native speaker. I have experienced that myself many times before, when I'm lost and I ask an English friend of mine for advice he often says that I make it myself too difficult. I want to be perfect and often doubt because I'm scared to make any mistakes. It's silly, but that's how it is.

    An interesting thread this is !
    Spenser, In your first example sentences (is /are) I go with Hayseed and tdol.
    When it comes to using "fewer or less" I tend to use less. I can't remember me using fewer

    Don't say that you sound ignorant, if you look at the messages you have left behind, your level of English is very good as far as I'm concerned

    Kind Regards


    • Join Date: Oct 2005
    • Posts: 2
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #10

    Re: is or are?

    I think you can use there is, because you are using an articles "a" I am an student, and I had learned to write there is a cooler, or there are cooler

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

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
  •