There is/are a table and (a) chair

Rachel Adams

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Will the meaning change if I drop "a" in sentences #2 and #4? By dropping the article do the table and chair become a single unit and if they do, is it wrong to use "are" in sentences #2 and #4?

1. "There is a table and a chair in the corner."

2. "There is a table and chair in the corner."

3. "There are a table and a chair in the corner."

4. "There are a table and chair in the corner."
 

emsr2d2

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But some of you wouldn't use it. So something must be "wrong" with it.
That's like saying that because some of wouldn't actually say "I completed my journey to my place of work upon an omnibus" means it must be wrong. It doesn't. It's simply that some (most) of us would say "I went to work on the bus".
 

Rachel Adams

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That's like saying that because some of wouldn't actually say "I completed my journey to my place of work upon an omnibus" means it must be wrong. It doesn't. It's simply that some (most) of us would say "I went to work on the bus".
Regarding "on the bus", is there any difference in meaning between your sentence and this one "I went to work by bus"?
 

Glizdka

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But some of you wouldn't use it. So something must be "wrong" with it.
There's nothing wrong about it, or right. Some people would use it, some people wouldn't.

English is like that sometimes. Lots of regional and generational differences, dotted with personal preferences. Choose whatever you like better and use it.
 

Rachel Adams

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There's nothing wrong about it, or right. Some people would use it, some people wouldn't.

English is like that sometimes. Lots of regional and generational differences, dotted with personal preferences. Choose whatever you like better and use it.

I have seen "there's a lot of people outside" so "there is a lot of people outside" isn't impossible either, is it?
 

5jj

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Few native speakers find "there is a lot of people outside" natural, though many say "there's a lot of people outside"
 
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emsr2d2

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I have seen "There's a lot of people outside" so "There is a lot of people outside" isn't impossible either, is it?
You need to remember that many native speakers use "There's" as a cover-all for both "There is" and "There are". That doesn't mean that "There's" can be converted into "There is" each time.

We use it a lot when it's followed by a number.

There's twenty people in the room.
There is twenty people in the room. ❌
There are twenty people in the room. ✅
 

Rachel Adams

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Few native speakers find "there is a lot of people outside", though many say "there's a lot of people outside"
Do you mean few native speakers would say that? I mean "there is a lot of people."
 

5jj

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Sorry. There was a word missing. I meant Few native speakers find "there is a lot of people outside" natural.
 

Rachel Adams

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Sorry. There was a word missing. I meant Few native speakers find "there is a lot of people outside" natural.

But it's not the same as "There is a book and a table in the room" the correct answer in the key section is "there is". Does it mean "there's" and "there is" are equally natural when there are two words in a sentence, but not when there is a plural noun such as "people", " students"? the natural option in this case is "there's" not "there is".
 

emsr2d2

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But it's not the same as "There is a book and a table in the room". The correct answer in the key section is "There is". Does it mean "There's" and "There is" are equally natural when there are two words in a sentence, but not when there is a plural noun such as "people" or "students"? The natural option in this case is "There's" not "There is".

I don't know what you mean by "when there are two words in a sentence". Clearly there aren't only two words in any of our/your example sentences.
The thing that we clearly aren't getting across is just how often native speakers use "There's", without any attempt to think about the grammar of it. All of the following are perfectly natural:

There's a cat on the table.
There's two cats on the table.
There's a cat and three dogs under the table.
There's two cats and three dogs under the table.
There's a student waiting for you.
There's six students waiting for you.
There's a lot of people here.
There's seven people on the list.
 

Rachel Adams

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I don't know what you mean by "when there are two words in a sentence". Clearly there aren't only two words in any of our/your example sentences.
The thing that we clearly aren't getting across is just how often native speakers use "There's", without any attempt to think about the grammar of it. All of the following are perfectly natural:

There's a cat on the table.
There's two cats on the table.
There's a cat and three dogs under the table.
There's two cats and three dogs under the table.
There's a student waiting for you.
There's six students waiting for you.
There's a lot of people here.
There's seven people on the list.
I meant two nouns in a sentence as in "there is a *computer* and a *table* in my room". Is "there is" also natural in each of your example? By the way, my book ("English Grammar in Context" by Michael Vince) gives "there is" not "there's" as a correct option in its example (there is a computer and a table in the room). But as 5jj said few native speakers would say "there is a lot of people" instead of "there's a lot of people" I was wondering if it's true that either "there's" or "there is" is correct when I have a few nouns in a sentence, but when I have a plural noun such as "students", "people" or "doctors" only "there's" is natural not "there is".
 

Glizdka

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I think you are too obsessed with the idea that any of them is correct or incorrect. People have preferences here.

Perhaps Mr. Vince prefers "There is". Maybe he has his own idea how it should be taught and decided to teach "There is" and "There are" instead of "There's" because of some other reasons, such as making it easier to go from "It is / They are" to "There is / There are" or practicing telling singular and plural nouns apart rather than using a cover-all "There's". We can only speculate.

All I know is that "There is" works well with singular nouns, "There are" with plural nouns, and "There's" should work alright almost every time.

I have a theory that there's is easier to say than there're, and any contraction is easier than no contraction, making there's so popular that it works even though it technically comes from there is that shouldn't work with plural nouns.
 
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