Grammar rules for There is /There are


The construction there is /there are is known as an existential construction in English grammar.

It is used to indicate the existence of something or someone.

The there is/there are has a different structure compared to the typical subject-verb-object (SVO) sentence structure.

In there is/there are sentences, the word there serves as a placeholder or dummy subject, and the real subject comes after the verb.

Here’s the breakdown:


Affirmative (Positive) Form:

The affirmative forms of the there is  there are constructions in both singular and plural forms, along with various articles and determiners:


Singular Form:

 [There] + is + [singular noun] + [prepositional phrase or additional information].


Affirmative with indefinite Article (a/an):  

There is a cat in the room.


Affirmative with determiner Some:

There is some milk in the refrigerator.




Plural Form:

 [There] + are + [plural noun] + [prepositional phrase or additional information].



Affirmative (no “a” or “an” in plural):

There are books on the shelf.



Affirmative with Some:

There are some apples in the basket.



Affirmative with Many:

There are many students in the classroom.


Affirmative with Specific Numbers (Two, Three, etc.):

There are three cars in the parking lot.



In summary, when forming affirmative sentences with there is /there are:

1.Use a or an before a singular countable noun.

2.Use some for non-countable nouns or plural countable nouns.

3.Use specific numbers like two or three before plural countable nouns.

4.In the plural form, you generally don’t use an indefinite article before countable nouns.





Negative Form:

Singular: [There] + is not or isn’t + [singular noun] + [prepositional phrase or additional information].

Plural: [There] + are not or aren’t + [plural noun] + [prepositional phrase or additional information].



The negative forms of the there is /there are constructions, along with the use of no, not, and any:


Negative with No:

There is no cat in the room.

There are no books on the shelf.



Negative with Not:

There is not a problem with the solution.

There are not many people at the party.


Negative with Any:

There isn’t any milk in the refrigerator.

There aren’t any chairs in the living room.





Situational Use:

1.Use no when emphasizing the absence or lack of a specific item or condition.

2.Use not to negate the existence or presence of something.

3.Use any in negative sentences when referring to the absence of items or when there is uncertainty about the presence of something.





There isn’t any reason to worry.

(Indicating the absence of a reason)


There is not a cloud in the sky.

(Negating the presence of a cloud)


There are no students in the classroom.

(Emphasizing the absence of students)






Interrogative (Question) Form:

Invert the order of there and the verb.



Short answer situations:

How to form questions using the there is/ there are constructions, along with short answer situations:


Singular Form (There is):

Is there a cat in the room?

Is there any coffee left?


Plural Form (There are):

Are there books on the shelf?

Are there any apples in the basket?



Short Answers:


Affirmative Short Answers:

Yes, there is. (singular)

Yes, there are. (plural)



Negative Short Answers:

No, there isn’t. (singular)

No, there aren’t. (plural)



Question: Is there a problem with the computer?

Short Answer:

Yes, there is.

No, there isn’t.



Question: Are there any cookies left in the jar?

Short Answer:

Yes, there are.

No, there aren’t.



Question: Is there any milk in the refrigerator?

Short Answer:

Yes, there is.

No, there isn’t.




Forming Questions:

1.Use the appropriate form of the verb to be (is/are) depending on whether the noun is singular or plural.

2.Add there before the verb.

3.Use any for non-countable or plural countable nouns in questions.






Expletive construction:

The there is/there are construction is an example of an expletive construction.

In there is/there are constructions, there is the expletive, serving as a grammatical placeholder rather than carrying significant meaning.

The real subject of the sentence comes after the verb.

For example:

There is a cat on the roof.

There are many students in the classroom.


In these sentences, there is the expletive, and the real subject (a cat or many students) comes after the verb.

The expletive construction is often used for emphasis or to introduce a new element into the discourse.


Two common types of expletive constructions:

Existential There Construction:

There is a book on the table.

In this construction, there serves as an expletive, and the real subject (a book) comes after the verb is.


Weather It Construction:

 It is raining.

In this construction, it is an expletive, and the real subject (rain) is delayed or omitted.

Expletive constructions are often used for stylistic or syntactic reasons.

They can help maintain sentence structure, emphasize a particular element, or introduce a topic.





Usage in different Tense forms:

The there is/there are construction is primarily used in the present tense to express the existence of something at the current moment.

However, it can also be adapted to other tenses to convey existence in different time frames.

Here are examples in various tenses:


Present Simple:

Affirmative: There is a cat in the garden.

Negative: There isn’t a problem with the machine.

Question: Is there a solution to this issue?




Past Simple:

Affirmative: There was a party last night.

Negative: There wasn’t any food left.

Question: Was there anyone at the meeting?




Future Simple:

Affirmative: There will be a meeting tomorrow.

Negative: There won’t be any delays in the schedule.

Question: Will there be enough time for the presentation?




Present Perfect Simple:

Affirmative: There has been a change in the plan.

Negative: There hasn’t been any communication from the team.

Question: Has there been any improvement in the situation?






Modal verbs in There is/There are:

Modal verbs are used in the there is/there are construction.

The modal verbs modify the main verb in the there is/there are construction, adding nuances such as possibility, necessity, probability, or permission.

The modal verbs provide a sense of the speaker’s attitude or certainty regarding the existence of something.




There can be challenges in implementing new policies.



There must be a solution to this problem.



There should be more opportunities for collaboration.



There might be some issues with the software.



There may be a delay in the delivery.



There could be improvements in the process.





Usage of Intransitive verbs in There is/There are:

Intransitive verbs can be used in the there is/there are construction to describe the existence or presence of something.

These constructions with intransitive verbs can add variety to your language and convey a sense of existence or presence using verbs other than to be.

Here are some examples using intransitive verbs:



To Live:

There lived an old doctor in the village.

There lives a mysterious hermit in the woods.



To Exist:

In the ancient forest, there exists a rare species of bird.

There exists a deep sense of community in this neighborhood.



To Stand:

In the center of the square, there stands a majestic statue.

There stood an old castle on the hill.



To Lie (to be situated):

In the valley, there lies a beautiful meadow.

There lay a path leading to the hidden waterfall.











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