There are air and water on earth

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shane

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Is this sentence right? I would have thought "There is air and water on earth" to be better, as 'air' and 'water' are uncountable.

Can anyone help?

TIA

Shane
 

Red5

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I agree with you Shane. It should be is. :D
 

shane

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Excellent. I can't believe that a native speaker had been paid to record this sentence for an English instruction book in China :(
 

Tdol

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Some would argue that there are two things and that the verb should be plural. In modern BE, however, the use of the plural sounds very strange. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's wrong, but I would never use the plural there. :D
 
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RonBee

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shane said:
Is this sentence right? I would have thought "There is air and water on earth" to be better, as 'air' and 'water' are uncountable.

Perhaps I can supply an AE perspective. IMO, it should be: "There is air and water on earth." Similiary, one might say, "There is food and drink available."

"There are air and water on earth" is not good.

8)
 

shane

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Thanks a lot guys, really appreciate it.
I agree to tdol's comments: "I wouldn't go so far as to say it's wrong, but I would never use the plural there."

IMO, grammar should never be regarded as the be all and end all of a language. Sometimes even grammar is not 100% correct when used in a real life situation.

I had an argument with a Chinese English teacher yesterday about this sentence. Now, I am not criticising him in any way, but of course, not having had much experience in English language interaction in China, he was looking at this sentence from a purely grammatical perspective. When I told him that native English speakers would use 'is' and not 'are', he would not accept it. From a grammatical point of view, maybe 'are' is correct. but in general, everyday English, it's not right.

That's my view, anyway :)

Shane
 

Tdol

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A sentence like 'There are a man and a woman waiting to see you' is grammatical, but I cannot imagine many native speakers coming out with it. :(
 

RonBee

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tdol said:
A sentence like 'There are a man and a woman waiting to see you' is grammatical, but I cannot imagine many native speakers coming out with it. :(

I think I might have an explanation for that. If I say "There is a man and a woman" I am linking them, making them a pair. Also, the choice of verb might have something to do with the fact that both "man" and "woman" are singular. "There are a man...." just doesn't seem natural. I think most people would naturally say "There is a man and a woman" and not think twice about it.

Finally, it could perhaps be seen as an elliptical sentence, thus: "There is a man and [there is] a woman."

What do you think?

8)
 
J

John D

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There are earth and water.

The sentence should be considered incorrect because the author has disregarded the fact that because he used "are", he must then quantify or explain the noun. i.e. There are vast amounts of water and air on earth. Not just leave readers to their own imagination.
 

RonBee

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John D

Hey! John D, I've only seen two of your posts so far, but I have found them enjoyable and informative. Welcome to the forum!

:D

8)

Regards,
 

Tdol

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Yeh- nice to meet you, John. :wink:
 

Lib

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ages later .... but however. A teacher once told me, many years ago, that if the first thing after there is / are is singular, then we use 'there is' and if the first thing is plural, then we use 'there are'.
There is a cup and two plates. There are two plates and a cup. It may sound strange, but it is logical in a warped sort of way.
 

Tdol

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It's logical to me- there are two concepts of plural at work- numerical and grammatical, of which the more important is grammatical. ;-)
 

RonBee

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Lib said:
A teacher once told me, many years ago, that if the first thing after there ... is singular, then we use 'there is' and if the first thing is plural, then we use 'there are'.

That makes sense.

Lib said:
There is a cup and two plates. There are two plates and a cup.

Those are good examples.

Lib said:
It may sound strange, but it is logical in a warped sort of way.

No, it doesn't sound strange at all. It makes perfect sense.

8)
 
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