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There is and there are

What’s the difference between there is and there are? Depending on whether a singular or plural noun follows, we use ‘there is’ for singular nouns and ‘there are’ for plural nouns.

Also, most natives will use the singular version ‘there is’ even with plural nouns, although this is actually incorrect and should only be used in informal speech.

Why do we use these two words as a preparatory subject?

We use there is and there are to say that someone or something exists or is somewhere. We use them before the subject, or as a preparatory subject.

For instance, it’s not correct to say; ‘a lot of people here’ or ‘they are a lot of people here’. The correct form would be ‘There are a lot of people here’.

Do try to use the two forms correctly, for singular and plural nouns. Complete explanations differentiating these two preparatory subjects, with examples to follow.

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We use there is with singular nouns

  • There is a new boy joining our class today.
  • I was told that there is an eclipse tonight at 20:00h.
  • There is a fantastic new book out from Isaac Asimov.

We use there are with plural nouns

  • There are too many people in the centre, I don’t enjoy large crowds.
  • I’m not sure if there are any police around here.
  • There are going to be many new visitors and new faces at the book club.

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