There Is VS. There Are: How To Choose?

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When it comes to using the phrases “there is vs. there are” correctly, it can be confusing for English language learners. After all, when do you use one phrase or the other? What determines which one should be used in a sentence?

This guide will help clarify any confusion about these two phrases by explaining what each of them mean and how to choose between them. We’ll look at examples of usage for both singular nouns, plural nouns, uncountable nouns, collective nouns and compound subjects. By the end of this guide, you’ll have a clear understanding of when to use which phrase so that your sentences sound correct every time!

There Is vs. There Are

What is the Difference Between There Is and There Are

When it comes to the English language, it’s important to understand the nuances of grammar. One common confusion that arises is the difference between “there is” and “there are.” While the two phrases might seem similar, they are used in different contexts. “There is” is used when referring to a singular object or location, while “there are” is used for plural objects or locations.

For example, you would say “there is a book on the table” but “there are several books on the shelf.” Understanding the subtle differences between “there is” and “there are” will ensure that your writing is clear and precise.

When to Use “There Is”

When it comes to using “there is,” the key is to use it when you want to draw attention to the existence of something or someone. This simple phrase is perfect for introducing a new concept or object in your writing, such as “There is a new restaurant in town.” It can also be useful for emphasizing the presence of something, such as “There is a massive storm brewing off the coast.” However, it’s important to note that overusing “there is” can make your writing feel dull and repetitive. Instead, try to vary your sentence structure and use “there is” sparingly for maximum impact.

When to Use “There Are”

When it comes to using the phrase “there are,” the context of the sentence will determine when it is appropriate to use. Typically, “there are” is used to introduce a new topic or to indicate the presence of something. For example, “There are many options available when it comes to choosing a new car.” It is important to note, however, that overuse of this phrase can make writing or speaking sound repetitive or less engaging. Varying sentence structure and using alternative phrases can help to keep your tone of voice interesting and informative.

Ultimately, the decision of when to use “there are” will come down to the specific message you are trying to convey.

Examples of Using “There Is” in a Sentence

One common phrase used in English is “there is.” It is used to introduce or indicate something that exists or is present. For example, you can use it to say “There is a book on the table” or “There is a concert tonight.” This phrase is often followed by a subject and verb, and can be used in a variety of settings, from describing something physical to discussing more abstract ideas.

Additionally, “there is” can also be used with plural forms, as in “there are many different opinions on this topic.” So the next time you want to indicate the existence of something, consider using “there is” in your sentence.

Examples of Using “There Are” in a Sentence

When forming sentences, utilizing the phrase “there are” can provide a helpful structure. For instance, “there are” can be used to introduce a list, as in “there are three main reasons why people enjoy chocolate.” This phrase can also be used to describe a physical setting or location, as in “there are tall trees lining the edge of the park.”

Furthermore, “there are” can be used to communicate the existence of something, as in “there are many different types of birds in this area.” In short, “there are” is a versatile phrase that can be utilized in many different contexts to convey useful information.

How to Choose Between There Is and There Are with Nouns That Have Singular or Plural Forms 

Choosing between “there is” and “there are” can be confusing, particularly when deciding which to use with nouns that have singular or plural forms. A good rule of thumb is to focus on the number of items being referred to. If there is only one item, use “there is,” such as in the sentence “there is a cat on the roof.” If there are multiple items, use “there are,” such as in the sentence “there are three cats on the roof.”

However, be aware that some nouns that appear plural, such as “news” or “advice,” are considered singular and should be paired with “there is.” Ultimately, paying attention to the number of items being discussed and understanding the nuances of certain nouns can make the decision much simpler.

How to Choose Between There Is and There Are with Uncountable Nouns 

When working with uncountable nouns, choosing between “there is” and “there are” can be a bit confusing. However, it all comes down to the concept of singular versus plural. If the uncountable noun is being treated as a singular entity, such as a substance or abstract concept, use “there is.”

For example, “There is milk in the fridge” or “There is hope for the future.” On the other hand, if the uncountable noun is being treated as a group of multiple items, use “there are.” For instance, “There are cookies on the plate” or “There are books on the shelf.” By following this simple rule, you’ll never have trouble choosing between “there is” and “there are” with uncountable nouns again.

How to Choose Between there is and there are With Collective Nouns 

When it comes to choosing between “there is” and “there are” with collective nouns, it’s important to consider the number of individual entities within the group. If the group consists of multiple individuals, then “there are” should be used. For example, “there are many students in the classroom.” However, if the collective noun is singular, then “there is” should be used. For instance, “there is a team of researchers working on the project.”

By understanding this simple rule, you can ensure that your sentences are grammatically correct, making your writing clearer and more effective.

The Rules for Choosing between there is and there are With Compound Subjects  

Choosing whether to use “there is” or “there are” when dealing with compound subjects can be tricky. Fortunately, there are rules to help guide you.

  • When a compound subject is joined by “and,” you should use “there are.” For example, “There are birds and bees in the park.”
  • When a compound subject is joined by “or” or “nor,” you should use “there is.” For example, “There is either a cat or a dog in the room.”
  • However, if one part of the compound subject is plural and the other is singular, the verb should agree with the noun closest to it. For example, “There are apples and a banana on the counter.” These simple rules will help ensure that your sentences are grammatically correct and clear to your readers.

The Difference between British English Usage of ‘there is’ vs ‘there are’  

In British English, using “there is” versus “there are” may seem like a small detail, but it can make a big difference in how a sentence is understood. Simply put, “there is” is used to describe a singular subject, while “there are” is used to describe a plural subject. For instance, “there is a cat” describes one cat, while “there are cats” describes multiple cats. This distinction may seem trivial, but it can greatly impact the clarity of your message, especially in writing.

So next time you’re working on a piece of writing in British English, take care to use the correct form of “there is” or “there are” for maximum impact.

The Difference between American English Usage of ‘there is’ vs ‘there are’

The nuances of American English can be quite perplexing, especially when it comes to the difference between the usage of ‘there is’ and ‘there are.’ While both phrases refer to the existence of something, ‘there is’ is used for singular nouns and non-countable nouns, while ‘there are’ is used for plural nouns. For example, “there is a book on the table” is correct, while “there are a book on the table” is incorrect.

However, “there are books on the table” is correct. Understanding the subtle differences in usage can make a significant impact on the clarity of communication in American English.

Common Mistakes People Make when Choosing between “There Is” & “There Are”

Choosing between the phrases “there is” and “there are” may seem trivial, but it is crucial to use them A common mistake people make is failing to match the subject-verb agreement. For instance, the use of “there is” is appropriate for singular subjects like “a book,” while “there are” is suitable for plural subjects such as “books.” Another error people make is using “there is” for multiple subjects.

For example, saying “there is a bike and a car” instead of “there are a bike and a car” is incorrect. It is essential to pay attention to the number of subjects when choosing between “there is” and “there are” to communicate effectively in English.


It is important to be aware of the nuances between “there is” and “there are” when speaking or writing in English. Understanding the message is clear and effective every time!


Q: What is the difference between “there is” and “there are”?

A: “There is” is used for singular nouns, while “there are” is used for plural nouns. Singular nouns refer to one item (e.g., dog, book), while plural nouns refer to multiple items (e.g., dogs, books).

Q: When do I use “is” and when do I use “are”?

A: Generally speaking, if you are referring to something in the singular form (one object or person), then you should use the verb “is.” If you are referring to multiple objects or people, then you should use the verb “are.”

Q: What about uncountable nouns and collective nouns?

A: Uncountable nouns (e.g., information, water) are always singular and require the verb “is.” Collective nouns can be either singular or plural depending on context; for instance, a collective noun like “team” may refer to one team or multiple teams. In this case, if it is one team then use the verb “is” and if it is multiple teams use the verb “are.” For example: There is a team of five players OR There are two teams of five players.

Q: How do I choose between “there is” and “there are” when the subject of the sentence is a compound?

A: When dealing with compounds, you must think about each part of the compound separately. For instance, if your subject includes both singular and plural nouns, then use the verb that applies to the nearest part of the compound. For example: There are two cats and one dog OR There is one cat and two dogs.  In this case, “cats” is plural so we use “are”; likewise, “dog” is singular so we use “is.” 

Hopefully, these tips will help you to choose between “there is” and “there are” with confidence! Just remember to consider the number of objects or people you are referring to and use the appropriate verb.

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