Subject-Verb Agreement with There is, There are
There's a bird in the sky.
The structure of this expression is very simple. We use "There is" with singular subjects and we use "There are" with plural subjects:
Look at these examples, with positive, negative and question:
*Note that singular includes uncountable nouns (uncountable nouns are always singular)
There is with singular subject series
We use "there is" before a series of singular subjects. Look at these examples:
The phrase "fruit, bread and wine" refers to three things, so why do we use the singular "There is"? The reason is ellipsis (where we cut out words that are repeated). So...
There is fruit, bread and wine on the table
There is fruit, there is bread and there is wine on the table
There is/are with singular/plural subject series
Sometimes we have a series of subjects that are mixed - singular and plural. In informal speech, the verb then agrees with the nearest subject. Look at these examples:
Note that this is common usage in informal speech only. It is grammatically incorrect and you should not use it in formal writing or formal speech.
There is/are + a lot of/lots of
Do we use "there is" or "there are" with a lot of/lots of? It depends on the noun: if it is singular we use "there is"; if it is plural we use "there are". Look at these examples:
**Note that in informal language, we often use "there's" (but NOT "there is") with a plural subject:
Remember, this is informal and you should not use it for formal language.