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Are there any questions I should be asking?
Is there any articles available on the subject?

My instinct is that in the two questions above, it should be 'are' as the subjects of the sentences (questions/articles) are plural.

However I also recall being told that the singular 'is' is valid here too, and of course see it very often in usage online, and this has left me a bit unsure.

Update: I have stumbled upon the reason for the confusion.

Is there any water?
Are there any questions?

The sentence structure is the same but of course water is not plural, although it is not singular either.

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Related: this question on mass nouns vs count nouns which does mention water as a mass (uncountable) noun. –  aedia λ Jul 15 '11 at 1:48
    
Actually, this is a possible duplicate of “there's” vs “there're”. –  RegDwigнt Jul 15 '11 at 15:04
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3 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Always use the plural "are" with a plural subject (e.g. "question"), and the singular "is" with a singular subject (e.g. "article"), or with an uncountable subject (e.g. "water"). Hence:

Is there any question I should be asking?

Are there any articles available on the subject?

Is there any water left in the pond?

The following are never correct:

Is there any questions I should be asking?

Are there any article available on the subject?

Are there any water left in the pond?

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I figured out the confusion. "Is there any water?" See what I did there? I'll update the question. –  Charles Goodwin Jul 15 '11 at 1:20
    
(I edited my answer to include uncountable nouns.) –  Daniel Jul 15 '11 at 2:27
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The indefinite pronouns anyone, everyone, someone, no one, nobody are always singular and, therefore, require singular verbs.

Everyone has done his or her homework. Somebody has left her purse. Some indefinite pronouns — such as all, some — are singular or plural depending on what they're referring to. (Is the thing referred to countable or not?) Be careful choosing a verb to accompany such pronouns.

Some of the beads are missing. Some of the water is gone. On the other hand, there is one indefinite pronoun, none, that can be either singular or plural; it often doesn't matter whether you use a singular or a plural verb — unless something else in the sentence determines its number. (Writers generally think of none as meaning not any and will choose a plural verb, as in "None of the engines are working," but when something else makes us regard none as meaning not one, we want a singular verb, as in "None of the food is fresh.")

None of you claims responsibility for this incident? None of you claim responsibility for this incident? None of the students have done their homework. (In this last example, the word their precludes the use of the singular verb.

Some indefinite pronouns are particularly troublesome Everyone and everybody (listed above, also) certainly feel like more than one person and, therefore, students are sometimes tempted to use a plural verb with them. They are always singular, though. Each is often followed by a prepositional phrase ending in a plural word (Each of the cars), thus confusing the verb choice. Each, too, is always singular and requires a singular verb.

Everyone has finished his or her homework. You would always say, "Everybody is here." This means that the word is singular and nothing will change that.

Each of the students is responsible for doing his or her work in the library. Don't let the word "students" confuse you; the subject is each and each is always singular — Each is responsible.

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You're talking essentially about a matter of formality. In everyday, informal (especially spoken) English, native speakers commonly use "there's" (and derived forms) to introduce either a singular or plural.

In more formal/careful usage, "there are" (and derived forms) generally appears to be preferred when the logical subject is plural.

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Yes, but in an interrogative sentence, when the being verb precedes the "there", it is not usually even informally acceptable to violate subject-verb agreement. Not to detract from the gist of what you are saying here, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't apply to these particular examples. –  Daniel Jul 15 '11 at 0:59
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It's maybe a bit less common because of the absence of a contracted form in the interrogative, but I'd be reluctant to say it's impossible. –  Neil Coffey Jul 15 '11 at 2:35
    
"Is there some cats down that alley?" –  Daniel Jul 15 '11 at 2:37
    
Yes, for example. –  Neil Coffey Jul 15 '11 at 3:27
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