What's the difference between there is/are & runny/runni

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What's the difference between there is/are & runny/runni

Unread postby joanne » 28 Feb 2006, 21:42

Dear Lucy:

I am an Engilsh teacher of young learners in Asia (and I am not a native-speaker). Please help me clearify some questions:

(1) There is V.S. There are

In two of the text books I am using in class, we learned sentences like: There is a living room, a dining room and a bedroom in the house.
There is a sandwich, a potato and an orange on the table.
(FYI, the books are Side by Side published by Longman, Open House published by Oxford University Pres) And I told the kids we would use "There are cats and dogs" or "There are two birds in the tree" when "there" followed with plural nouns.

And thus, my students and I followed the text books and we got used to this kinds of oral and written expression. But now all of my students are facing a problem: their junior high school teachers told them that's wrong and didn't give them any points on the tests. The teachers told them the sentences should be like: There are a cat and a dog under the table.
because there are two objects ( a cat and a dog).

(2) Running Nose vs. Runny Nose
Is there any difference between the two usage? I told my students that "I have a runny nose and my nose is running." But my students said their school teachers told them it should be RUNNING NOSE"

My students are quite confused. And I don't know how to help them or even to express to them. Please help me. Thanks a lot!

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Help - grammar problem

Unread postby Lucy » 28 Feb 2006, 21:43

Dear Joanne,

In the examples you give, your phrases are correct.

In your examples, “there is” is correct because it is followed by a series of singular nouns “there is a sandwich, a potato and an orange on the table”. “There are cats and dogs” is correct because the nouns are both plural.

Your example concerning a runny nose is also correct. “Runny” is an adjective and “running” is a verb form. “Running” is sometimes used as an adjective, as in “hot and cold running water”. However, at your students’ level I don’t think it’s necessary for them to know this distinction.

Unfortunately, I think the Junior high school teachers are not aware of or are not teaching the correct usage. This is a very tricky situation because you have taught the correct forms, the students have learnt them and the teachers are giving grades to something that is wrong. If you point this out to your students, it could undermine the authority of their high school teachers. If you go along with what these teachers are saying, you’ll be teaching your students something that is wrong and changing what you previously taught. It’s a delicate situation that you’ll need to handle diplomatically.

Good luck,


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