There IS or There ARE – Which do I need? (PDF download)

The chart below is a quick guide to help you decide if you need to use There IS or There ARE. Keep reading the post for more details and lots of natural examples. 

We use There is with singular nouns. (Just 1 thing)There is a new shopping mall on Main street.” *Shopping mall is a singular noun. (1 mall)
We use There are with plural nouns (More than 1 thing)There are many stores in the mall.” *Stores is a plural noun. (many stores)
We also use There is with uncountable nounsThere is some coffee left if you would like a cup.” (Coffee is an uncountable noun)

There is VS There are – grammar

The verb “To be” has many uses. One use is to show that something exists or doesn’t exist. 

In this post we will learn the difference between There is and There are to show if one thing or several things exist.

There is

We use There is with singular countable nouns

There is a long line in front of the movie theater. It’s always busy on Saturday night.”
Line is a singular countable noun.

Singular examples:

  • There is a big game on TV tonight.”
  • There is a new cafe opening beside the train station next week.”
There is a nice hotel near the airport.
There is a nice hotel near the airport.

There is also has a contracted form that is common in spoken English. There’s

  • There’s a big game on TV tonight.”
  • There’s a new Mexican restaurant opening near my office next month. I love Mexican food, I can’t wait for it to open.”

The negative of there is is there isn’t.
*Isn’t is the contracted form of is not. The contracted form is also the most natural to use with the negative.

  • There isn’t a parking lot close to the theater so It’s better take the bus.”
  • “I usually watch soccer on Friday but there isn’t a game this week because of the national holiday.”

We also use There is… with uncountable nouns:

A: “The photocopier is out of paper.”
B: “There is some more paper in the file cabinet.”
A: I just checked. There isn’t any paper there.”
Paper is an uncountable noun.

There are

We use There are with singular countable nouns

“A new movie is opening tonight. I bet there are long lines in front of every theater in town.”
Lines is a plural countable noun.

Plural examples:

  • There are 4 students waiting in your office.”
  • There are many ways to solve this problem.”
  • There are 8 cafes near my home station in Tokyo.”

The negative of there are is there aren’t.

There aren’t many cafes near my office so I always bring coffee from home.”

Do you want to learn real English that native speakers use?

Asking questions with IS and ARE

If we want to ask a question using this grammar we need to change the word order. IS or ARE will come first, THERE will come second.

Please look at the following examples.

  • Are there many people in your office?”
  • “It’s 8:50, work starts at 8:30. Is there a reason why you’re late?”
  • Are there some English textbooks that you like to use when you teach?”
  • Is there a cafeteria at your school?”

Remember to use Is there…? with uncountable nouns:

  • Is there any coffee left?”
  • Is there any more photocopy paper?”
This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-NC

There is or There are a few

You may sometimes hear native speakers say something like this:

A: “Are there many high schools in your hometown?”
B: “There’s a few.”

Is this grammar correct? It seems like it isn’t correct but this expression is common in natural English conversation. I often hear it and I’m sure I have said it many times myself!

A few means 2 or 3, so the correct grammar would look like this:

A: “Are there many high schools in your hometown?”
B: “There are a few.”

But… if you said “There’s a few (something)…” it will be okay and you will be definitely be understood. This commonly used in North American English.

*This is most natural in the contracted form – there’s.
There’s a few.”

There’s a few things we need to talk about…

Learn how to use FEW and A FEW at my blog post here.

There is more or There are more

This is another common question that I am asked by students. The same rule applies but there is a nuance with MORE.

When you’re talking about a plural subject are is necessary.

“Only 4 people are at the party now but there are more coming. It’s still early.” 

When the subject is not mentioned there is/there’s more is natural.

Laurie: “After the movie I saw Johnny Depp leaving the same theater.”
Beth: “You got to see Johnny Depp? You’re so lucky!”
Laurie: “Wait Beth, there’s more. He took some time to talk with fans. I got to talk to him and get a picture with him! I was so happy!”

This grammar is like saying “There’s more stuff I have to tell you.”

Stuff is a very informal noun (uncountable). Here is a meaning from the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary:
used to refer in a general way to things that people do, say, think, etc. 
stuff

 This phrase is very often used in TV commercials. Someone in the commercial will tell you about all the great features of a product. When you think he/she is done they will add, “But wait, there’s more!”
Then they will tell you about some extra feature of offer that makes their product even better.

But wait, there’s more!

Thanks to the Grammarly blog for some inspiration:
https://www.grammarly.com/blog/there-is-there-are/

Conclusion

Before you go please leave a comment for me and tell me which part of this post was the most helpful for you. Leave a sentence too that uses this new grammar.

I made this post to help English students learn and use this grammar. When I study my own second language (Japanese) I find example sentences to be very helpful for me. I added lots of natural examples to this post to help you master this grammar.

AND – There is a PDF version of this post that you can download at the bottom of this page.

Whatever you do today, I hope your day is amazing!

PDF Download

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More English grammar – THERE and IT

There is VS. There are - Which one should I use?

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