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There Is vs. There Are

 

We use "there is" and "there are" to say that something exists. The two phrases are often confused so below we take a look at the differences between "there is" and "there are".

Grammar Corner There Is vs. There Are

 

We use there is and there are to say that something exists.

 

Positive Sentences

We use "there is" for singular and "there are" for plural.

  • There is one whiteboard in the classroom.
  • There are three desks in the office.
  • There is a fly in the soup.
  • There are many people at the train station.

 

We also use "there is" with uncountable nouns:

  • There is milk in the fridge.
  • There is some sugar on the table.
  • There is ice cream on your shirt.

 

Contractions

The contraction of "there is" is "there's".

  • There's a good book on the shelf.
  • There's only one piece of cake left.

You cannot contract "there are".

  • There are three cats on the couch.
  • There are only two weeks until our anniversary.

 

Negative Form

The negative is formed by putting not after is or are:

  • There is not a single person on the street.
  • There are not eight students in the classroom.
  • There is not a tree in the garden.
  • There are not two tigers in the zoo.

We almost always use contractions when speaking.

The Negative contractions are:

  • There's not = There isn't
  • There are not = There aren't

 

There aren't with ANY

When we want to indicate that a zero quantity of something exists we use there aren't any.

  • There aren't any girls at the party.
  • There aren't any children on the playground. 

We also use this structure with uncountable nouns:

  • There isn't any air in the tire.
  • There isn't any sugar in my coffee.

 

Questions

To form a question we place is / are in front of there. Again, we use any with plural questions or those which use uncountable nouns. We also use there is / are in short answers.

  • Is there a cow in the supermarket? - No, there isn't.
  • Are there any cats in the park? - Yes, there are.
  • Is there a security guard in the theater? - Yes, there is.
  • Are there any kangaroos in Africa? - No, there aren't.
  • Is there any ice-cream in the freezer? - Yes, there is.

 

How Many with Are There

If we want to find out the number of objects that exist we use "how many" in the following form:

How many + plural noun + are there (+ complement).

  • How many children are there on the playground?
  • How many students are there in the classroom?
  • How many countries are there in Europe? 
  • How many Harry Potter movies are there?

 

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