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  1. queenbu's Avatar
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    #1

    There is/there are with 'a lot of'

    1.There are a lot of olives on the pizza.
    2.There is a lot of olives on the pizza.
    3.There are a lot of fish in the lake.
    4.There is a lot of fish in the lake.
    Why does 2 sound completely wrong to me whilst 4 doesn't? Google searches on UK pages give 115 results for 'there are a lot....' (these also include 'there are a lot of fish restaurants') whilst 30 results for 'there is a lot of fish'. Is it the singular/plural of fish that is misleading me? However some do use 'there is a lot of fish'.
    Excerpt from BBC news,for example:
    “There was a time when there were a lot of fish,” said another fisherman, Mashoudi Shumbua.
    “Then there was a time when there were few fish, but now there is a lot of fish again, in fact more than ever. But there are also a lot of fishermen now - also more than ever before,” he told me.
    Or has BBC written exactly what the fisherman said without editing?


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    #2

    Re: There is/there are with 'a lot of'

    Quote Originally Posted by queenbu View Post
    1.There are a lot of olives on the pizza.
    2.There is a lot of olives on the pizza.
    3.There are a lot of fish in the lake.
    4.There is a lot of fish in the lake.
    Why does 2 sound completely wrong to me whilst 4 doesn't? Google searches on UK pages give 115 results for 'there are a lot....' (these also include 'there are a lot of fish restaurants') whilst 30 results for 'there is a lot of fish'. Is it the singular/plural of fish that is misleading me? However some do use 'there is a lot of fish'.
    Excerpt from BBC news,for example:
    “There was a time when there were a lot of fish,” said another fisherman, Mashoudi Shumbua.
    “Then there was a time when there were few fish, but now there is a lot of fish again, in fact more than ever. But there are also a lot of fishermen now - also more than ever before,” he told me.
    Or has BBC written exactly what the fisherman said without editing?

    LGSWE: [at page 186]

    In conversation, however, we frequently find a singular form of be followed by plural noun phrases. The verb is regularly contracted and attached to the preceding there.

    Gary, there's apples if you want one. (CONV)

    In fact, such examples are somewhat more common in conversation than the standard construction with plural verb plus plural noun phrase.

    ...

    The special behavior of there's is matched by a similar tendency for here's, where's, and how's.

    Here's your shoes. (CONV)

    Where's your tapes? (CONV)

    How's mum and dad? (CONV)
    ##

  2. queenbu's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: There is/there are with 'a lot of'

    But grammatically, is 'there is a lot of fish' wrong?

  3. Harry Smith's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: There is/there are with 'a lot of'

    The use of "there is/are" has become a problem. Nobody can exactly say how it is used in modern English though we know " there is" is used with singular nouns and "there are' is used with plular ones. This is what we teach at school. But in spoken English people use "there is/are' as it is convenient for them. That's why the more we discuss it the more we become confused.


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    #5

    Re: There is/there are with 'a lot of'

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Smith View Post
    The use of "there is/are" has become a problem. Nobody can exactly say how it is used in modern English though we know " there is" is used with singular nouns and "there are' is used with plular ones. This is what we teach at school. But in spoken English people use "there is/are' as it is convenient for them. That's why the more we discuss it the more we become confused.
    There's no problem, Harry, save for the one that inaccurate descriptions of language have caused. Actually, we now know how it is used in modern English. LGSWE stands for The Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English and by studying actual examples of usage in a wide variety of uses/registers, we're actually beginning to get accurate portrayals of language.

    It's really quite simple even for ESLs. Just because <there's + plural noun phrase> predominates in speech doesn't mean that ESLs or ENLs cannot use <there are + plural noun phrase>.

    There are lots of situations/There's lots of situations where formal language is peferable and there are/there's situations where casual is better. This isn't such a difficult distinction for ESLs and it is one that can lead them to better understand and perform as a native speaker does, which is, after all, the plan.

    Yes, Queenbu, it's grammatical. It's simply not Standard English though it is standard English.

  4. queenbu's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: There is/there are with 'a lot of'

    I liked your final line, Riverkid.
    I fully understand what you and all the native speakers on this forum say but it is a bit difficult to explain such things to a 12 or 13 year old student who, in an exercise, has to choose between two options. Put yourself in my place. I just can't tell a student 'Both are OK'. I have to help him choose which is the better of the two options or better still, which is right and which is wrong. Imagine if I were to tell an Italian 13 year old student that you can use 'they' when referring to a single person! It would just confuse him (or her or them???) If he were to go and tell his Italian teacher of English that, she'd fail him, I'm sure.

  5. Harry Smith's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: There is/there are with 'a lot of'

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    There's no problem, Harry, save for the one that inaccurate descriptions of language have caused. Actually, we now know how it is used in modern English. LGSWE stands for The Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English and by studying actual examples of usage in a wide variety of uses/registers, we're actually beginning to get accurate portrayals of language.

    It's really quite simple even for ESLs. Just because <there's + plural noun phrase> predominates in speech doesn't mean that ESLs or ENLs cannot use <there are + plural noun phrase>.

    There are lots of situations/There's lots of situations where formal language is peferable and there are/there's situations where casual is better. This isn't such a difficult distinction for ESLs and it is one that can lead them to better understand and perform as a native speaker does, which is, after all, the plan.

    Yes, Queenbu, it's grammatical. It's simply not Standard English though it is standard English.
    Hi, Riverkid!
    I don't know what English I speak today Am or Br. I became a student 35 years ago. My teacher at the university could speak BrE perfectly. And he taught us that language. Why I say that language because very few people speak that language nowadays. It was a very beautiful language. Then I worked at a tourist company as a guide and completely changed my language. Most of the tourists were from the USA. I meet a lot of people from England, America and other English speaking countries. You can't imagine how different is their English. And the use of "There is/ are " is different and not only it. That's why I have decided to teach European English. People living in Europe speak English too.


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    #8

    Re: There is/there are with 'a lot of'

    Quote Originally Posted by queenbu View Post
    I liked your final line, Riverkid.
    I fully understand what you and all the native speakers on this forum say but it is a bit difficult to explain such things to a 12 or 13 year old student who, in an exercise, has to choose between two options. Put yourself in my place. I just can't tell a student 'Both are OK'. I have to help him choose which is the better of the two options or better still, which is right and which is wrong. Imagine if I were to tell an Italian 13 year old student that you can use 'they' when referring to a single person! It would just confuse him (or her or them???) If he were to go and tell his Italian teacher of English that, she'd fail him, I'm sure.
    Again, Queenbu and Harry, this is not all that difficult an issue. I'm more than certain that you can give those same kids examples from their own language where casual language is not used for formal type situations, which includes exams.

    I think that you both have too narrow a focus here. You have no problem teaching these kids that a compound subject, eg, 'bacon and eggs' takes a singular verb, 'is'. There are other areas of English where verb choice doesn't seem completely logical.

    There's no reason other than tradition that words like 'everyone' take a singular verb. What these students have to realize, and I'm not suggesting that this be done at the early stages of learning, is that there are such things in English as notional concord that take precedence over a strict rule of grammar.

    That's necessary because meaning is all important to language.

    There are some areas that even native speakers can't understand, but we simply accept them because language generates its own logic and sometimes you just have to set aside your notions of what's logical and accept.

    Since 'there' is an empty subject, it's not at all surprising that this developed. It can easily be viewed as,

    There's = The situation is

    There's two men at the door. = The situation is; two men are at the door

  6. queenbu's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: There is/there are with 'a lot of'

    Hello riverkid-it's not that I have too narrow a focus. Let me explain better. I do not teach English in a school but I help Italian kids who don't do well in English at school. Most of them have old Italian teachers who are very narrow-minded (in more ways than one). I repeat, they have to choose what's right and what's wrong in an exercise and it is exactly because I don't have too narrow a focus that I ask you on this forum which should be the right one because for me they are both usually right. My son, for example, has a teacher who accepts more than one answer but she's a rarity. Now do you understand why I insist on one answer? i guess I'll have to stick to the rules that they have on their books!
    Thanks anyway


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    #10

    Re: There is/there are with 'a lot of'

    Quote Originally Posted by queenbu View Post
    Hello riverkid-it's not that I have too narrow a focus. Let me explain better. I do not teach English in a school but I help Italian kids who don't do well in English at school. Most of them have old Italian teachers who are very narrow-minded (in more ways than one). I repeat, they have to choose what's right and what's wrong in an exercise and it is exactly because I don't have too narrow a focus that I ask you on this forum which should be the right one because for me they are both usually right. My son, for example, has a teacher who accepts more than one answer but she's a rarity. Now do you understand why I insist on one answer? i guess I'll have to stick to the rules that they have on their books!
    Thanks anyway
    I see, Qb. Well then, do what I suggested, and what is only common sense for beginners. Give them exactly what they should do for the exam because that has to be your focus.

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