Using 'there is' and 'there are'

Using 'there is' and 'there are'

Do you know how to use there is and there are? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

Look at these examples to see how we use there is and there are.

There's a very big park in my city.
There aren't any street markets.
There are no restaurants in the station.
But there's a café and a bank.

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1

Grammar A1-A2: Using 'there is' and 'there are': 1

Grammar explanation

Affirmative

We use there is to say that something exists or is in a place.

There is a bridge in the park.

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

There is a restaurant in the station.
There are two cafés in the shopping centre.

We can say there's instead of there is. We often say this when we speak. But there is no short form for there are.

There is a restaurant in the station. > There's a restaurant in the station.
There are two cafés. > There're two cafés.

When we are speaking informally and make a list of things, we often use there is or there's instead of there are.

There's a café, a supermarket and a bus stop on my street.
(Instead of There are a café, a supermarket and a bus stop on my street.)

Negative

For negatives, we use there isn't or there's not (= there is not) for singular and there aren't (= there are not) for plural. 

There isn't a pharmacy near the hotel.
There aren't any restaurants near the hotel.

We often use there isn't a + singular noun, there isn't any + uncountable noun and there aren't any + plural noun.

There isn't a café near here.
There isn't any milk.
There aren't any toilets in the park.

To show that the negative is important, we also often use there is no + uncountable noun and there are no + plural noun. (It is possible to use there is no + singular noun, but it's not as common.)

There's no milk.
There are no toilets in the park.

Questions

For questions, we say Is there for singular nouns and uncountable nouns and Are there for plural nouns. 

Is there a café near here?
Is there any milk in the fridge?
Are there any toilets in the park?

To answer, we say Yes, there is (not Yes, there's) or No, there isn't, or Yes, there are or No, there aren't.

Is there a café near here? Yes, there is. / No, there isn't.
Is there any milk in the fridge? Yes there is. / No, there isn't.
Are there any toilets in the park? Yes, there are. / No, there aren't.

Here is a summary of these forms.

  singular plural
affirmative there is
there's
there are
negative there is not
there isn't
there's not
there are not
there aren't
negative + a/any there isn't a ... (countable)
there isn't any ... (uncountable)
there aren't any ...
negative + no there is no ...  there are no ...
question Is there ...? Are there ...?

Other verb tenses

We can use there is and there are in many other verb tenses.

There was a storm last night. (Past simple)
There were a lot of cars on the roads yesterday. (Past simple)
There will be a lot of people at the shopping centre tomorrow. (Future simple)

Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

Grammar test 2

Grammar A1-A2: Using 'there is' and 'there are': 2

Average: 4.1 (72 votes)

Submitted by AnChe on Tue, 19/03/2024 - 10:22

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Dear Team,

While reading a book, I came across the following two sentences:

1) 'And where there are thinking, judgment, and decisions, psychology is at play; for instance, in the guise of optimism.' 

2) 'Where there are competition and jockeying, there is power; for instance, that of a CEO or politician pushing through a pet project.'

Honestly speaking, I thought it should be 'there IS thinking, judgement, and...' as well as 'there IS competition...' because 'thinking' and 'competition' are uncountable nouns that are used in the singular.

Is there any possible explanation for using the plural form of the verb 'to be' in those cases? Or are those just misprints?

Many thanks for your kind help!

Hello AnChe,

Both sentences you quote are correct.

It's true that in an informal style, we often use 'there is' with a list of different objects (e.g. 'There's a café, a supermarket and a bus stop on my street'). But in a more formal style, and perhaps especially in writing, we use 'there are' in such cases. It doesn't matter if the items listed are countable or uncountable; since there are more than one, we use 'there are'.

Best wishes,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team

 

Submitted by MayChalita on Sat, 10/02/2024 - 10:03

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Hello, I am a student teacher from Thailand. I have two questions. 1) Does this sentence use "There is/ There are" correctly? The sentence is "There is a cat, a dog, and a snake." And is there any explanation if it is correct? 2) Is it okay to say "There are a cat, two dogs, and three snakes." ?

Hello MayChalita,

Standard usage is for the verb to agree with the first item in the list:

There is an apple and two pears on the table.

There are two pears and an apple on the table.

You can find a discussion of the topic here:

https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/140854/there-is-there-are-depends-on-plurality-of-the-first-list-element-or-not

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by abazurto30 on Thu, 01/02/2024 - 12:09

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Greetings.

Please, help me with the following:

In this sentence: There is a red and white armchair in the living room.

I would like to know if I can write that sentence: There are a red and white armchair in the living room?

Yes or No? And Why?

Thank you very much for your explanation!

Hi abazurto30,

If you mean there is only one armchair, and it has two colours (red and white), then only There is ... is correct.

If you mean that there are two armchairs, one red and one white, then it would be better to say There are a red and a white armchair in the living room, to make it clearer that there are two. 

I hope that helps.

Jonathan

LearnEnglish team

Submitted by Needgrammar on Thu, 07/12/2023 - 02:58

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Hello dear teachers!

I have a question about there is\are + possesive pronouns, they sound strange to me but do not seem grammarly incorrect. Is it okay to say "There is Jimmy's car"? or "there are my mother's books"?.

The more I think about about the stranger it seems.

Thanks in advance.

Hello Needgrammar,

When 'there is/are' is used to declare something exists, it is indeed wrong to use a noun phrase with a possessive after it. This is because we use 'there is/are' to talk about a non-specific object, i.e. one of a general kind. For example, we could say 'There is a restaurant on Main Street' or even 'There is a McDonald's on Main Street'. But we don't say 'There is my father's restaurant on Main Street' because my father's restaurant is a specific object.

But in an older style of English (which is unusual nowadays), it's also possible to begin a sentence with 'there'. For example, we could say 'There before me stood an old man.' In this case, we've used a word order that was more common in older styles of English but which we occasionally use today (though typically we don't use the verb 'be' in such a sentence). A more modern way to say this is simply 'An old man stood before me'. This kind of language is often used in fantasy novels such as The Lord of the Rings.

But this is not the use of 'there is/are' that is explained on this page.

I hope that helps you make sense of it.

Best wishes,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by howtosay_ on Wed, 04/10/2023 - 01:02

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Hello, dear teachers and team!

Could you please help me with the following:

I've seen the following sentence in an Oxford Dictionary: "Inside of all of us is a small child screaming for attention". So "there" is missing in this sentence. So, can I say in the same way, for example:

1. In my city are lots of book shopes

2. In the city centre is a good book shop

So, can I skip "there" while not using this structure at the beginning of a sentence!

I'm so much grateful for your precious help and contributing to my knowledge and thank you very much for answering this comment beforehand!