there are a chair...

Peter SLP

Senior Member
Polish
Dear all,

I have a question. When I list a number of different things in a sentence and the first one is singular I should use "there is" or "there are"?

1. There are a chair, a table, books, sofas in my room
 
  • Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    There are quite a few previous threads on this question. Here's one: there is/are a silver cup and a silver medal
    And here's a useful post by panjandrum, taken from that thread:
    You will find general guidelines for situations like this in some previous threads.

    There is/are a book and a crayon
    there is/are an old man and a young woman
    (There is / There are) a table and four chairs.
    There is /are a man and two girls in the room
    (There are more.)

    You will find some asserting that you should use a plural verb because there is more than one thing on the other side of the verb.
    There are a silver cup and a silver medal...
    There are a table and four chairs...
    There are four chairs and a table...

    You will find others asserting that you should use a singular verb is the thing nearest the verb is singular, plural if plural.
    There is a silver cup and a silver medal...
    There is a table and four chairs...
    There are four chairs and a table...

    I don't believe you will find a definitive answer.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    If you decide to write it that way (many people might choose not to, precisely because of this issue), yes, you should match the “number” of the verb to the first item in the list. Basically, I don’t think it’s ever right to use “are a” together (except, I suppose, in phrases like “these pants are a little too tight” :D).

    There’s an article on the subject here: There Is/There Are + Nouns in a Series – ESL Library
     

    S1m0n

    Senior Member
    English
    Even among educated native speakers, much confusion abounds on this question. While this thread has given you the correct answer, you are likely to run into a lot of texts that have it wrong.
     
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