There is or There are: How to Choose?

It may appear quite easy to distinguish between “there is” and “there are”. But it can be complex sometimes, and there can be a hurdle as to identifying which to apply.

Let us understand how and where these phrases can be applied and used correctly.

Difference between “there is” and “there are”

In general, the selection between the phrases “there is” and “there are” depends on the noun that follows it.

In most cases, you will use the phrase “there is” when the noun is singular and the phrase “there are” mostly when the noun is plural.

So we know that the use of “there is” or “there are” depends on a noun. In some cases, the noun is present before the verb. But in sentences that begin with the phrases “there is” or “there are,” the noun follows later.

Let us look at some examples:

“There is a dog in the room.”

Here, the phrase “there is” is used as the “dog” is singular.

“There are many activities you can take part in.”

Here, the phrase “there are” is used as the “activities” is plural. It is to note that modifiers like many will not change the fact that the noun is still plural, and you need to use “there are.”

“There is a number of” or “There are a number of”

With phrases like “a number of”, it becomes difficult to decide whether you should use “there is” or “there are” in a sentence.

For example, for a phrase that says, “a number of cats,” it might be confusing which one to use focusing on “cats”, which is plural, or “a number”, which is singular.

In such cases, you have to make a decision. If you want to emphasize the group, use “is”, and if you want to emphasize the individual members inside a group, use “are”.

The same is applicable for other collecting phrases. For example,

  • There is a wide variety of chocolates in the store.
  • There are a variety of chocolates in the store.

The same problem occurs when we use the word “any” in a sentence. “Any” is most often followed by a plural noun.

Are there any leftovers.”

Here, “are there” is used as the noun is plural.

But sometimes, it is also followed by a singular noun, which is less common.

Is there any doubt?”

Here, “is there” is used as the noun that follows is singular.

But it becomes a bit more complex while using it with words like money. Although it is used in a plural sense, “is there” is applied instead of “are there”.

Is there any money in the drawer?”

Usage with a Series of Items

When we use sentences that talk about multiple things, we use “there is” and not “there are”. That is because the noun that follows the phrase is singular even though we are talking about multiple things at a time.

For example,

There is a living room, kitchen, and a bathroom in the new apartment.”

So we see, we need to understand where these phrases are applicable. Sometimes it can be very complicated, but with knowledge, it will not cause much trouble.

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