Subject-Verb Agreement with There Is/There Are
Posted by languageandgrammar on March 11, 2008
In an article about shopping for a car: There’s other ways to save money when buying a car.
This grammar error has been spreading over the past few years like germs at a nursery school. Is (there’s, of course, means there is) is a singular verb; why would it be paired with a plural noun (ways) after it? There are only one reason (see how ridiculous that sounds?)—I mean, there is only one reason: confusion with subject-verb agreement.
If you use there is (or the abbreviation there’s), then there had better be a singular noun after it. There is a way to save money. Here, is is singular, and way is singular. If you use there are, then there should be a plural noun after it. There are other ways to save money when buying a car. Here, are is plural, and ways is plural.
I actually saw a Web site that said that in informal speech, there is is being used with plural nouns. I’m always shocked and dismayed when I find a popular source perpetuating grammar errors. People may be using there is with plural nouns, but whether it’s informal conversation or formal writing, it’s always wrong. Subject-verb agreement is just that—subject-verb agreement, not disagreement. Just because people are doing it doesn’t mean that it’s correct.
Here are some other examples of there is/there are use.
There’s a lot of reasons to be optimistic. (incorrect)
There are a lot of reasons…. (correct)
There’s two sides to every story. (incorrect)
There are two sides….(correct)
There’s several storms arriving in the West. (incorrect)
There are several storms arriving in the West. (correct)
There’s not options out there that they like at the moment. (I actually heard this one on ESPN.) (incorrect)
There aren’t options…. (correct)
Use the singular case, there is, with non-countable nouns, for example, food, electricity, and air. (There’s a lot of food, there is a lot of electricity, and there’s a lot of air.)
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