Tag Archives: subject-verb agreement

Is it “There is” or “There are”?

You need to be extra careful with sentences that begin with there is or there are. Which one should you use – and how can you be sure you’re right? And what about there go and there goes?

There’s a trick! All you have to do is to reverse the sentence (switch it around). For example, “There is” becomes “is there.” Luckily this is easy to do, making it simple to get the verb right.

Take a look at these examples. The reverse is in brackets:

There is a reason assaults are down in that neighborhood. [Think: a reason is there = there is a reason]  CORRECT

There go two fine officers. [Think: two fine officers go there = there go two fine officers]  CORRECT

Try these:

There was/were two messages for you this morning.

Here is/are the receipt you were looking for.

There go/goes my chance for a transfer.

Here are the correct answers:

There were two messages for you this morning. [Think: two messages were there]  CORRECT

Here is the receipt you were looking for. [Think: the receipt is here]  CORRECT

There goes my chance for a transfer. [Think: my chance goes there]  CORRECT

You can download a free handout about Subject-Verb Agreement at this link: http://bit.ly/SubVerbAgreement

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Either Or Sentences in Reports

“Either or” sentences like this one occasionally show up in criminal justice reports, raising questions about the correct verb:

Malik told me either the employees or their boss was/were involved in the theft.

Here’s how to find the correct verb in “either or” sentences : Skip over the “either” part and look only at the “or” part:

 Malik told me either the employees or their boss was/were involved in the theft.

“Their boss was” sounds better, so here’s the corrected sentence:

Malik told me either the employees or their boss was involved in the theft.  CORRECT

To learn more, click here and read Rule 3.

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