Collective nouns - There <is a lot, are a lot> of things ...

combustion

Senior Member
Italian, Italy
I know I have to know this... but which of the two possibilities is correct?
"There is a lot of things" or "there are a lot of things"...
Thank you ...a lot?!?:D
comb...
 
  • TimLA

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    There are a lot of things...
    There are many things...

    There is a lot of things... is commonly used, but is grammatically incorrect because things is plural.

    There is a lot of noise in this room...OK
    There is a lot of junk in this room...OK

    Tim
     

    Joelline

    Senior Member
    American English
    Hi Combustion,

    Quick tip 1: the words "here" and "there" in the beginning of a sentence like this one can NEVER be the subjects of the verb.

    Quick tip 2: the subject can never be in a prepostional phrase (so get rid of "of things.")

    That means what's left is "a lot" as the subject and "are" as the verb.

    Correct answer: There are a lot of things...

    Hope this helps.
    Joelline
     

    combustion

    Senior Member
    Italian, Italy
    Thank you both, but the thing that I cannot understand... if "lot" has the article "a" I suppose that it is singular, so why the verb is plural?
    comb...
     

    Joelline

    Senior Member
    American English
    Good question, combustion! I wish I had a good answer!

    According to free.dictionary.com:

    a lot means "A large extent, amount, or number." It is often used in the plural. I suppose it takes a plural verb because its meaning is plural: you could just as easily say many: There are many things.

    This isn't a very good answer, but I assure you that most AE speakers use "a lot" as a plural! You'll have to wait for some BE speakers to tell you if they use in the plural as well.

    Joelline
     

    petereid

    Senior Member
    english
    combustion said:
    I know I have to know this... but which of the two possibilities is correct?
    "There is a lot of things" or "there are a lot of things"...
    Thank you ...a lot?!?:D
    comb...
    There are lots of things.... There are lots of bicycles... There are lots here.
    I use "are" for the plural noun "lots of"

    But I do say, wrongly?? "There's a lot of bikes here"


    There is a lot of stuff There is a lot of discussion
    I use "is" for the uncountable nouns

    some grammarian can explain ?? or put me right
     

    Joelline

    Senior Member
    American English
    petereid said:
    But I do say, wrongly?? "There's a lot of bikes here" Should be "There are a lot of bikes here."


    There is a lot of stuff There is a lot of discussion
    I use "is" for the uncountable nouns YES! BRAVO! :thumbsup:

    some grammarian can explain ?? or put me right
    YOU ARE THE GRAMMARIAN who has solved the problem. Good work, petereid! :D
     

    petereid

    Senior Member
    english
    Hi joelline
    But I do say, wrongly?? "There's a lot of bikes here"
    Thinking abut it, that's ok. The verb "is" agrees with "Lot of"
    That's cos I was in a hurry with a dinner to prepare.
    My usual colloquial bad grammar is "There's lots of bikes here" which should be "There are lots of bikes here"... "Lots" being the plural
    American-english and British-english once again out of step. Sorry for the cockup.
     

    Anais Ninn

    Senior Member
    Korean
    There are is correct, although we often see people using there is + plurual noun or here is +plural noun or where is + plural noun on TV (like Friends or Sex and the City, for example.)

    Anais
     

    agie

    Member
    Poland, Polish
    what is the difference between those two expressions?? I can't figure it out so, please help
    thanks in advance
     

    agie

    Member
    Poland, Polish
    so a lot of people and lots of people it's the same thing and there is no rule saying when I should write a lot of people and when lots of people, right??
     
    so a lot of people and lots of people it's the same thing and there is no rule saying when I should write a lot of people and when lots of people, right??
    Hi again, agie.

    Examples:

    There are a lot of people in the shop today.:tick:
    There are lots of people in the shop today.:tick:

    A lot of people watched the football match.:tick:
    Lots of people watched the football match.:tick:

    I can't think of any exceptions.

    LRV
     
    I'd be inclined to say "there's a lot of people" ( "lot" being a singular noun)
    Hello Peter,

    That thought crossed my mind, too, but I think "there are a lot of people" is commonly used (probably incorrectly). "There's a huge crowd of people" sounds natural as well. I suppose "a huge crowd" is a collective noun. Or is it? :confused:

    Edit: Would you say, "There was a lot of people in the theatre" or "There were a lot of people in the theatre"? I'd go for the second one. Is it because "people" is plural? Now I'm really befuddled. ??????

    Sorry if I'm confusing Agie.

    LRV
     
    I'd be inclined to say "there's a lot of people" ( "lot" being a singular noun)
    how many people slip up on this?
    surely, surely, surely it must be there are a lot of people. because you would not say- lots of people is standing outside, you would say lots of people are standing outside and therefore, there are a lot of people standing outside.
    phew! sorry- just had to say my bit- i love my grammar!
     
    how many people slip up on this?
    surely, surely, surely it must be there are a lot of people. because you would not say- lots of people is standing outside, you would say lots of people are standing outside and therefore, there are a lot of people standing outside.
    phew! sorry- just had to say my bit- i love my grammar!
    Thanks Emily,

    You have said what I was thinking.:) Then I got to wondering (as happens from time to time).

    LRV
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    There are is correct, although we often see people using there is + plurual noun or here is +plural noun or where is + plural noun on TV (like Friends or Sex and the City, for example.)

    Anais
    I’m wondering how spread this phenomenon is. How often do people use/hear there is a lot of instead of there are a lot of? Does such usage jar on the ears? How is it received by the native speakers. I’m mainly interested in the spoken language register, but comments on others are also welcome. :)


    Tom

    EDIT: Yes, I know the correct form is the one with are.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    The correct "standard English" answer is "there are" whenever what follows is plural (as in "a lot of students")
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    I’m wondering how spread this phenomenon is. How often do people use/hear there is a lot of instead of there are a lot of? Does such usage jar on the ears? How is it received by the native speakers. I’m mainly interested in the spoken language register, but comments on others are also welcome. :)

    It makes me cringe to admit it but I sometimes use this wrong tense (although I'm usually anal about grammar) but it comes when I'm inclined to speed up my conversation. I would NEVER say "there is a lot of students going to the football game" but I might, from time to time, say "there's a lot of students going to the football game". For some reason, contracting "there is" to "there's" doesn't seem to make the error so glaring or offensive. I also believe that "there is/there are" is the only phraseology where I do this. It's a totally unconscious error but I do catch myself doing it occasionally - egads!:(
     

    winklepicker

    Senior Member
    English (UK)
    It makes me cringe to admit it but I sometimes use this wrong tense... I would NEVER say "there is a lot of students going to the football game"
    Hang on, chaps. Where is the logic here?

    There is a group of students. :tick:
    There is a lot of students. :cross: (?)

    Is it such a glaring error?
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    There's little doubt in my mind that many people who would never say there is a lot of plural things would casually say there's a lot of plural things.
    There's is easy to say.
    There are is slow by comparison and there're is difficult.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Hang on, chaps. Where is the logic here?

    There is a group of students. :tick:
    There is a lot of students. :cross: (?)
    The difference is that "a lot of" in that context has lost its literal meaning and is used to mean "many."

    However, if it is used literally (which it still can be), then "is" is correct.
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    The difference is that "a lot of" in that context has lost its literal meaning and is used to mean "many."

    However, if it is used literally (which it still can be), then "is" is correct.
    That is a very interesting piece of information. So, is the original meaning of lot something like a group; generally, is/was it a collective noun? And, if we take it literary then does There is a lot of students work?


    Tom
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    That is a very interesting piece of information. So, is the original meaning of lot something like a group; generally, is/was it a collective noun? And, if we take it literary then does There is a lot of students work?
    Yes, "lot" literally means "group" and is a collective noun.

    This literal usage is rare but possible. An example: "There is another lot of students that we need to interview."
     

    Antchexec

    New Member
    British English
    To support what Elroy is saying; the problem here (as Elroy points out) is that "lot" is being used to replace "many" when "lot" could be a singular term for a group of things. Hence, in an auction, a quantity of teacups being sold as one item would be considered "a lot". The auction, as a whole, facilitates the sale of many "lots".

    Therefore, literally speaking, "a lot of students" could be "a group of students" and, therefore, "lots of students" may be considered "a number of groups of students". Elroy's example is an expression we would use in Britain and is akin to the term "a job-lot" meaning to group a number of items all together as one item. The word "load" could also be used in this context, depending on the image one wishes to convey and, therein, lies the main problem. The right or wrong of this discussion can only be based on what was in the mind of the author. I suspect the original posting on this thread should have been, ideally, "there are many things".

    All that said, language does evolve (quite rightly) and the use of "a lot of" to substitute for "many" is an accepted use. So, we must consider (in that context) “lot” as a quantifier. Thus we get “there are seven students”; “there are an infinite number of students”; or “there are a lot of students”. It follows that, if you wish to check your grammar (in this case), you can substitute “a lot of” with “many” and the sentence should still scan properly...unless the author meant simply a group of students.

    Consider these two sentences:

    A lot of students in the university are English.

    A lot of students in the university is English.

    In the second of these sentences I could actually be thinking, "there are a number of English students at the university but not very many" and written it as:

    A small lot of students in the university is English.

    At the end of the day, whilst many words may change meaning and evolve over the course of time, grammar is not (or, in my opinion, should not) be subject to the same evolution. What we are discussing here is the use and meaning of the word “lot”, not grammar. At the risk of being repetitive, whether you chose “a lot” to mean “many” is up to you (or dictionary compilers), but “students” is plural and therefore “are” must be used unless you are referring to them as a collective, single group.

    As a footnote (and amusement), using Microsoft Word 2003, type the following phrase and perform a ‘Grammar Check’: A lot of teacups is being sold at Sotheby’s auction today.

    For those without the program, the first suggestion is to change “A lot of” to “Many” and then to change “is” to “are” giving us “Many teacups are being sold at Sotheby’s auction today”. This changes the meaning of the sentence enormously. “Lot” is obviously causing lots of problems…or are “lots” causing a lot of problems?
     

    alfadog67

    New Member
    English, US
    I know I have to know this... but which of the two possibilities is correct?
    "There is a lot of things" or "there are a lot of things"...
    Thank you ...a lot?!?:D
    comb...
    I have cracked the code!
    "There is a lot" is correct, because even though "a lot" means many, it is still "A" beaing "1" lot.
    There IS a great number of clouds.
    There ARE lots of people.
    There IS a [ANYTHING]
    There ARE [ANYTHINGS]

    Remember back when "alot" was a word? Back then, I can imaging that "There are alot" would have been correct.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top