is / are

English grammar and usage issues

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is / are

Unread postby grammarman » 19 Jun 2007, 03:55

See this sentence:

"There are a bat and a ball in the box."

Shouldn't it be IS a bat and a ball?
If yes, why?

Thanks.
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Unread postby jasminade » 02 Jul 2007, 14:08

If I recall correctly (I am nowhere near my grammar books and the net is not helping me) both are correct, however the use of "is" would be more conversational.

I will have to come back to you with a more thorough answer. Maybe someone else can help.
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is/are

Unread postby shlee » 02 Jul 2007, 23:36

grammarman is correct in his thinking. The word is the only word which can be used correctly in this sentence for a few reasons:

    1. The words bat and ball are in the singular form. We cannot say there are a bat or there are a ball

    2. The use of the conjunction and in the sentence serves to separate two different items. Regardless of there being more than one item, are cannot be used.

    3. Unless something changes in the sentence to create a need for using are, i.e. the singular form of one or both words is changed to the plural, then is can be the only correct word of choice.


This is a common mistake I often see and hear, even from native speakers of English. Remember, the main point hinges on the use of the singular form when mentioning the items in the sentence. This is a rule of grammar and speech that some would like to give more liberty with regard to use, but it is not possible. This doesn't even take into account the use of the article a which is being used for both items. It is a good question, and one I wish more people knew the answer to.
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Unread postby jasminade » 03 Jul 2007, 10:50

Thanks for that, but I have a deep feeling that are can be used being in something called the "elliptical" form.

But being so far away from my grammar books. :D
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Unread postby magicnumber9 » 03 Jul 2007, 11:24

What about "There is a pen and two books on the desk.", vs "There are a pen and two books on the desk."?
I have asked an American graduate of English (however it was many years ago he graduated) and he is 90% certain it is "There are ...", however using this site and according to a Chinese text book, it appears to be "There is...".
Thank you for any response.
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Using "are" correctly...

Unread postby shlee » 03 Jul 2007, 23:56

Nice discussion...

The only way to make are appropriate to this sentence is by changing the word structure in the sentence.

    First Sentence "There are a bat and a ball in the box." Are is incorrect because of its position in the sentence. It is being used to refer to separate, individual items in the singular form.

    Second Sentence "A bat and a ball are in the box." Are is now in the correct position in the sentence. It is refering to the same two separate items, BUT they are now a plural of items mentioned as a grouping. This makes the use of are correct.

The same case would be true of the other sentence you gave as an example.

    "There are a pen and two books on the desk."


I checked out jasminade's reference to the eliptical form, and it is actually refering to a different grammatical use. Not trying to play the devil's advocate here, but unless some recent change in the rules of grammar has taken place, these are the only options you have for this sentence...Nice discussion

:D
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Re: Using "are" correctly...

Unread postby bambang » 04 Jul 2007, 14:22

A good topic. Thanks anyway.

Keep in touch.
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Re: Using "are" correctly...

Unread postby jasminade » 09 Jul 2007, 12:50

shlee wrote:I checked out jasminade's reference to the eliptical form, and it is actually refering to a different grammatical use. Not trying to play the devil's advocate here, but unless some recent change in the rules of grammar has taken place, these are the only options you have for this sentence...Nice discussion

:D


No problem. I was scouring through some grammar books, using the internet and was not satisfied with the information given on this topic.

I am wondering if you might be able to recommend some books on this, both for my any our school.

Thanks.
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No probelm...

Unread postby shlee » 09 Jul 2007, 13:53

Please excuse me, I hope I didn't come across too abrasively. That was certainly not my intention, I apologize to you jasminade

I will post a list of a couple of good references in the next day or so when I have some free time. thanks for the request, and once again accept my warmest apologies...
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Re: No probelm...

Unread postby jasminade » 10 Jul 2007, 13:38

shlee wrote:Please excuse me, I hope I didn't come across too abrasively. That was certainly not my intention, I apologize to you jasminade

I will post a list of a couple of good references in the next day or so when I have some free time. thanks for the request, and once again accept my warmest apologies...


I have taken no offence whatsoever and I look forward to your reply regarding reference material. :lol:
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