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There Is and There Are on GMAT


Through this short video, understand the concept of "this is" versus "there are" on the GMAT sentence correction questions.


"There Is" and "There Are" on GMAT


Subject-verb agreement is one of the most commonly tested concepts in GMAT sentence correction. While the subject-verb agreement is one of the most basic concepts of English grammar and can be easily understood, there are certain cases where determining the appropriate verb forms can be quite tricky. In this short article, we will cover one such case, the use of "there is" and "there are".

"There Is" vs "There Are"


On the GMAT, whether the singular verb phrase "there is" or the plural verb phrase "there are" is used depends on the number of the subject that the phrase is meant to refer to. Thus, as is often the case in GMAT sentence correction, understanding the meaning of the sentence is paramount. If the subject is singular, "there is" shall be used and if the subject is plural, "there are" shall be used.

While this concept is simple enough, on its own, it can become quite complicated in certain complex sentences where it is difficult to determine whether the subject is singular or plural. Let us illustrate this point through the following example.

Example 1 - There is a sparrow and a crow on the broken trunk of the ancient tree.

We will now examine Example 1 to see if it is correct or not.

The subject of this sentence is clearly "a sparrow and a crow". We need not concern ourselves with the rest of the sentence, we only need to focus on the subject and the verb phrase. At first glance, it may seem that "there is" is correct here, as the verb phrase refers to two singular nouns, the sparrow and the crow. However, in this case, the two nouns are joined by the conjunction "and". When singular nouns are joined by "and" they come together to form a plural noun phrase. Thus, in this sentence, the verb phrase will not refer to the nouns "sparrow" and "crow" individually, but rather, to both the nouns, as a collective, meaning the subject is plural and the verb phrase "there are" must be used.

The correct sentence will be, There are a sparrow and a crow on the broken trunk of the ancient tree.

Understanding this concept will help you solve some of the most challenging sentence correction questions. This article has deliberately been kept brief; for a more elaborate explanation, please refer to Experts' Global's Stage One Sentence Correction videos.

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