CIP Online English Learning - ESL Lesson-There is-There are

There Is and There Are

Teacher Michelle

When do we use There is or There are? Grammar rules for these phrases are quite easy to understand. Although, to the unfamiliar, it can get confusing sometimes. Read on to see how each is used.

How to use There is and There are.

We use” there” to point out that someone or something is existing. We also use it to refer to someone’s presence. For example, we do not say that, “That is a person.” To point out that there is someone, we use “there”. “There is a person looking for you.” 

To choose There is or There are

It all depends on the noun before the verb. If the noun before the verb is singular, we use is. Correspondingly, we use are if the noun is plural. There is an exception though and we will discuss that later. For now, here are some illustrations. 

There is

We use There is when the noun after is singular. Same thing if we are discussing uncountable nouns. The rule applies too for negative sentences with any.

  • There is a book on the table.
  • There’s a big house on that street. (We use There’s for informal writing and speaking.)
  • There is an uncountable number of books written about that topic.
  • There isn’t any way that will happen.

There are

“There are” sentences are used for plural and countable nouns. Here is a list of examples.

  • There are some people in the park.
  • There aren’t any students in the office.
  • There are five cats in her house.

Some exception to the rule

I have a student say this sentence lately. Which one do you think is correct?

  1. “There is a teacher and some students.”
  2. “There are a teacher and some students.”

Grammar wise, I would have chosen b. Since “A teacher and some students” is considered plural. Although, during the conversation, it sounded better with “There is”. So, which one is correct?

Apparently, there is a universal agreement for these situations. It is okay to use “There’s” or “There is”. Given that, it is used in conversations and in some informal writing. For tests or formal writing, it would be considered wrong. “There are” would have been the right choice. 

English language is widely used by many people from different countries. Speakers of the language are not always familiar with every grammar rule. So, brushing up some of your basic grammar skills are useful. Learning is an endeavor that everyone can benefit from. I hope this helped clear out some confusion in speaking English. Thank you for reading!