There Is / There Are Exercise (190)

When the word there is used to begin a sentence, it is called an expletive. The verb that follows the expletive there must agree in number with its true subject, and in tense with any other verbs in the sentence.

Choose the forms that best fill the blanks in the following sentences.

  • On the patio, ________ four chairs and a table where we have breakfast when the weather is fine.

  • Where we used to live, I had neighbors from Vietnam, the Marshall Islands, and Mexico, but ________ no immigrants from France.

  • Where I work, _______ a grammar lesson at lunch every Friday for employees who want to improve their English.

  • After the tornado, ________ two families that were absent from Sunday school.

  • I looked everywhere, but __________ no extra chairs to be found.

Answers and Explanations

1. On the patio, there are four chairs and a table where we have breakfast when the weather is fine.

The true subject, "four chairs and a table," is plural so the verb must be either "there are" or "there were." Because the other verb, "have" is in present tense, the correct choice is "there are."

2. Where we used to live, I had neighbors from Vietnam, the Marshall Islands, and Mexico, but there were no immigrants from France.

The true subject is "no immigrants. The other verb in the sentence, "used to live" is past tense, so "there were" must agree in tense as well as in number.

3. Where I work, there is a grammar lesson at lunch every Friday for employees who want to improve their English.

The true subject is singular: "a grammar lesson." The other verb in the sentence, "want," is in the present.

4. After the tornado, there were two families that were absent from Sunday school.

The true subject is plural: "two families." "The other verb, "were" calls for past tense.

5. I looked everywhere, but there were no extra chairs to be found.

The true subject is plural: "no extra chairs." The verb "looked" is in past tense, so past tense is called for after the expletive.

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