This Week’s Grammar Pet Peeve: “There Is”

Syllabus Montreal TranslationIt makes perfect sense that what we say differs from what we write. But when people use “there is” with a plural noun, they look like complete morons.

Part of the problem is that, when you talk, you don’t always know what’s coming next. So it’s common to hear someone say something like “There’s 15 people coming to the meeting.” It sounds fine, even to my persnickety ears. But remove the contraction and you get “There is 15 people coming to the meeting.” Still sound OK? Not so much.

This mistake is made so often that it must drive non-native speakers crazy. This is basic grammar, after all.

When “there” is the subject, the verb must agree with what follows. For example:

There is a meeting today. (One meeting = singular verb)

There are too many meetings. (More than one meeting = plural verb)

If you’re having a casual conversation, and you make the mistake, you don’t need to start your sentence over to correct it. But please pay attention when putting those thoughts on paper!

What’s your biggest language pet peeve?

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