The following __ the e-mail address and the phone number Mary wants


The following __ the e-mail address and the phone number Mary wants.
Which verb form is correct, is or are?


This is one of those verb subject agreement questions that have no satisfying answer. How about: Mary is looking for the following email address and phone number number?


Hello, Sir Torsten. Do you mean that both “is” and “are” are right? I thought that “are” only is right.


The point I’m trying to make is that I would not start the sentence with ‘the following’ in the first place because it is way too difficult to understand.


So, please,

  1. How can this sentence be written? I suggest this sentence “These are the e-mail address and the phone number Mary wants.”. Is it right?

  2. What is the right answer “is” or “are”?


  1. The sentence is correct.
  2. The right answer is are.
    (The email and the phone are two distinct modes of communication)


There __ a pen and two pencils on the desk.
Which verb form is correct, is or are?


Again, it is are, which is the correct answer.

Most would use the singular- the proximity principle. Some would use the plural because of the mathematics.


I agree. Most people say things like ‘there’s lots of interesting people’ or ‘there’s many problems’, etc.


Thank you very much, Sir Anglophile, Sir Torsten.

The above-mentioned sentence could be accepted logically because “is” could be used for “a boy” and “a girl”, but “are” will be more suitable if the sentence is " There are a boy and two girls in the car", How can we use “is” in the later sentence instead of “are”?

Does the sentence “people say things” mean that using “is” for the plural is correct?


Yes, because if a large amount of native speakers say something I would define it as correct.


Thank you very much, Sir Torsten. In all countries all over the world native speakers slang is full of language mistakes. Are these mistakes correct even if they are answers in an English language examination or test?


This all seems to me to be a bit of a storm in a teacup. Let’s just say -

What follows is the telephone number and the email address Mary wants.


Hello, Sir Alan.

There are a boy and two girls in the car", is it acceptable to use “is” in the later sentence instead of “are” in an English language examination or test? If the answer will be “yes”, the question will be" why we study English grammar rules? Is not it confusing?

Many thanks


There is or there are?

Does the sentence below sound odd to you?

(1) There are a cat and a dog in the field.

If it does, you are probably not alone.

A friend had asked me some time back whether it should be (2) instead:

(2) There is a cat and a dog in the field.

The short answer is no, and the long answer will take us to two differing views.

Sentences beginning with “There” are termed expletive sentences. The word “There” is called a dummy subject whose purpose is to introduce the sentence. It does not refer to anything nor does it encode any grammatical information.

Traditional grammars argue for sentence (1) because the plural are agrees in number with the plural a cat and a dog , similar to the kind of agreement obeyed in the following pairs:

(4a) Some water is in the pond.
(4b) There is some water in the pond.

(5a) Many trees are planted here.
(5b) There are many trees planted here.

(4a) and (5a) are declarative sentences while (4b) and (5b) respectively are the expletive “There” counterparts.

Notice that it’s easier to see the number agreement between Some water and is and that between Many trees and are in the declarative structure than in the expletive structure, since Some water and Many trees occupy the prototypical subject position in (4a) and (5a).

The trick, therefore, is to turn sentence (1) into a declarative sentence to make this agreement obvious to see:

(6) A cat and a dog are in the field.

We now have a straightforward conjoined plural noun phrase A cat and a dog in the subject position agreeing with the plural be verb are , and this same plural be verb should be used in the “There” structure as we saw in (4b) and (5b), where the is and are respectively mirror their more prototypical counterparts.

This preference for the plural are in sentence (1) is the position held by traditional grammarians and echoed by others such as Grammar Girl.

In actual usage, however, there is a preference by most native speakers to choose the verb that agrees in number with the noun or noun phrase nearest to it (Marianne Celce­-Murcia et al, 1998). This preference can be explained by the Proximity Principle.

According to this principle, subject-verb agreement should occur with the subject noun nearest to the verb. Sentences (7) and (8) below illustrate this rule:

(7) Either John or his friends are attending the party.
(8) Either the students or their teacher was present.

In (7), the plural subject noun friends is nearer to verb to be than John , so the plural are is chosen. Similarly in (8), the singular subject noun teacher is nearer to the verb to be , so the singular was is preferred.

With expletive constructions, the proximity rule will give rise to the following two sentences:

(9) There is a cat and two dogs.
(10) There are two dogs and a cat.

So should we apply the proximity principle to “There” constructions? Well, no. Particularly in formal contexts, the grammatically acceptable version is the one based on the traditional prescription.


Thank you very much, Mr. Teo. You are excellent. your conclusion is:-

  1. “there are a banana and four apples.” (has a compound subject which is plural)
  2. “There is peace and joy in this home.” [where the subject (viz. peace and joy) can be deemed to be a single entity]. The more correct sentence will be “There are peace and joy in this home.”
  3. “There are five ringgit in my pocket.”
  4. Five kilograms is too heavy a school bag could be equated to (Five kilograms school bag) is too heavy for a child to carry (is for bag, not for five kilograms)
    I agree with your opinion

Many thanks


Usage note

  1. The verb following there is singular or plural according to the number of the subject that follows the verb: There is a message for you. There are patients in the waiting room. With compound subjects in which all the coordinate words are singular, a singular verb often occurs, although the plural may also be used: There was (or were ) a horse and a cow in the pasture. When a compound subject contains both singular and plural words, the verb usually agrees with the subject closest to the verb, although a plural verb sometimes occurs regardless, especially if the compound has more than two elements: There were staff meetings and a press conference daily. There was (or were ) a glass, two plates, two cups, and a teapot on the shelf.
    There | Define There at


Thank you very much, Sir Teo. You did your best to make me understand. I could understand your explanation. Anyway, traditional English is still acceptable, because it is the base.

Grammar Girl article editor March 9, 2018, mentioned the following:-

1- Sentences beginning with “there are” and “there is” are using a different kind of sentence structure called an expletive construction.

2- A reader named Joe wants to know whether he should say, “There is a couch and a coffee table in the room,” or “There are a couch and a coffee table in the room.”

3- put the subject first and the verb second. to convert expletive construction to declarative construction.

4- Search for the real subject of the sentence.

In my opinion, the problem is that Grammar Girl article editor supposed that “there” masks the real subject of the sentence, and so she suggested a subject from outside the sentence itself as “Bob” so the sentence became without meaning and so she accepted the sentence “There is a couch and a coffee table in the room” in dependence on the proximity rule of English grammar and rejected the sentence " “There are a couch and a coffee table in the room.”, while the real subjects of the sentence “a coach” and “a coffee table” are already present in the sentence itself and they are plural and no need for suggestion of a subject from outside the sentence (to keep the original and correct meaning and structure of the sentence) , and so the declarative sentence will be “A coach and a coffee table are in the room”. So the traditional English accept the sentence “There are a coach and a coffee table in the room” and reject the sentence " There is a coach and a coffee table in the room", except in case of considering it = There is a coach in the room+There is a coffee table in the room, where “and” is used for the conjunction ( to join) the two sentences and merge them in one sentence with the deletion of the repeated words , and in the condition that all the subjects of the new sentence are the same either singular (is) or plural (are) but not mixed subjects (singular and plural) which is considered as plural.

I agree with the traditional English, and with Dr. Lim Chin Lam’s explanation of “there is/there are” in his article “Single or plural” (MOE, Aug 13).
2- there is a dog and a cat | WordReference Forums

I’m very grateful to you, Sir Teo.

My best regards


I agree. But that’s an alternative (solution) to the differing opinions.

In fact, what follows is an idiom meaning what comes next, and it is usually followed by a singular verb regardless of subject matter that follows being actually singular or plural.