There is/are a book and a crayon

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JLanguage

Senior Member
USA: American English, Learning Hebrew and Spanish
Garou's question:
"And what should be used in this case:
'There is/are a book and a crayon'. Those are two things (plural) or two single things?"

TrentinaNE's response:
"There are. As a quick check, try turning it around: A book and a crayon are there."

I agree with her answer, but that construction sounds very awkward to me.

There are one book and one crayon. -
Also sounds very awkward to me, probably because I am expecting "there is one x", or "there is a y".

Only one marker and one crayon are left in the box.
Fine.

I only know one actress and one actor that are famous.
Fine.

Please comment on this situation,
-Jonathan.
 
  • Nick

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    JLanguage said:
    'There is/are a book and a crayon'. Those are two things (plural) or two single things?"
    I use is (the second "there is" is implied).
    There is a book and [there is] a crayon.

    JLanguage said:
    Only one marker and one crayon are left in the box.
    Fine.
    Fine if they are in the same box (IOW, we are talking about one box with both items).

    JLanguage said:
    There are one book and one crayon.
    Absolutely no. Correct or not, this is something up with which I will not put! ;) No, but seriously I do have to disagree.
     

    Isotta

    Senior Member
    English, Hodgepodge
    Nick said:
    I use is (the second "there is" is implied).
    There is a book and [there is] a crayon.

    Absolutely no. Correct or not, this is something up with which I will not put!
    About which I'm not too hot, either.

    I might say, "There are a book and a crayon," inadvertently sometimes, but it sounds dissonant. Saying, "There is a book and a crayon," glides better on my ear.

    For a time I even eliminated "There is/are" from my vocabulary to avoid this whole thing. Got messy.

    Z.
     

    JLanguage

    Senior Member
    USA: American English, Learning Hebrew and Spanish
    Nick said:
    I use is (the second "there is" is implied).
    There is a book and [there is] a crayon.


    Fine if they are in the same box (IOW, we are talking about one box with both items).


    Absolutely no. Correct or not, this is something up with which I will not put! ;) No, but seriously I do have to disagree.
    It did occur to me that "there is" is implied. No wonder it sounded so strange with "there are". I think I've changed my mind on this, because "there is" sounds much better there than "there are".
     

    JLanguage

    Senior Member
    USA: American English, Learning Hebrew and Spanish
    Isotta said:
    About which I'm not too hot, either.

    I might say, "There are a book and a crayon," inadvertently sometimes, but saying, "There is a book and a crayon," glides better on my ear.

    For a time I even eliminated "There is/are" from my vocabulary to avoid this whole thing. Got messy.

    Z.
    I wouldn't - I'd just say "there's". I often use "there's" incorrectly instead "there are", just because it's much easier to say and many people around me do this as well.
     

    DaleC

    Senior Member
    I wonder which thread this was; looks interesting.

    JLanguage said:
    Garou's question:
    "And what should be used in this case:
    'There is/are a book and a crayon'. Those are two things (plural) or two single things?"

    TrentinaNE's response:
    "There are. As a quick check, try turning it around: A book and a crayon are there."
    Trentina' reasoning is wrong for two reasons.

    The big reason is that the respective theres don't mean the same thing. "[certain things] are there" says precisely where things whose existence has already been introduced are located. "There is/are" sentences introduce or present something into the discourse; this 'there' is a dummy subject.

    Secondly, it's just an arbitrary standard that you rarely if ever have number agreement when you use more than one noun phrase. If there is just one noun phrase, you usually have number agreement.
     
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