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ESL forum > Grammar and Linguistics > There IS or there ARE?    

There IS or there ARE?


There IS or there ARE?
Hi there! I have a problem with grammar.
Can you help me to solve it, please.

Children have in their class book the sentence:
Downstairs there s a hall, a living room, a dining room, a kitchen and a toilet.

In the test they have to complete the following sentence:
There ____ an aple and an orange on the table.

What would be the correct solution: IS or ARE?

Following the exsample in the book I would choose: IS
But according to the test solutions the right answer would be ARE.

How to explain this?
Thank you so much in advance for your help.


4 Apr 2009      

Czech Republic

Hello Pika,
I think there are two possibilities. If we have a list of thinks and the first word in the list is in singular (a hall, an apple), we can say There is, even There are.

4 Apr 2009     

United Kingdom

Hi Pika,
I agree with the answer: IS.
I would say that the sentence is divided into two:
a)There is an apple on the table.
b)There is an orange on the table.
It is like joining two elementary prepositions into a complex sentence, so the verb should reflect the premise.
Hope this helps,

4 Apr 2009     

Russian Federation

Hello Pika,

The verb should agree with the first noun or pronoun after the verb. The solutions must be wrong.
"there are" is used with plural subjects.
You can consult some grammar book to make sure, like Swan s practical English Usage.


4 Apr 2009     


Hi Pika,

I agree with IS - i.e. "there is an apple and there is an orange on the table".I don t think you can say "there are an..." under any circumstances.
You can say there are some items, because the items are plural, but the apple and the orange are both singular.

Who wrote the test which says the answer is "are"?

I m English, and I look forward to seeing more responses to this question. I could be wrong (I think it s happened before...), but I don t think so.

All the best,


4 Apr 2009     


Definitely there is as the first noun is singular

4 Apr 2009     

Marla D.
United States

Yet another vote for "is".

4 Apr 2009     


Hi Pika, I think you should write " there is" because the first noun is singular...Cande.

4 Apr 2009     

United States

When writing in list form you use is.
There is a book, a table and a lamp in the room.
The use of the article a/an is the clincher.

4 Apr 2009     


Dear teachers,
thank you so much for your rapid help to clarifying my doubts.
I am really grateful to you all.

4 Apr 2009