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To be clear, among

There is one or several apple.

There are one or several apple.

There is one or several apples.

There are one or several apples.

which is correct?


My guess:

enter image description here

Because of the shortest distance rule 1, apples is correct as it is near several.

Though there seems to be near one, the actually object is apples, and thus are should be used.

Thus

There are one or several apples.

is correct.

To make things clearer,

There are one or several apples and a table.

illustrates the long connection between there and apples better.

1 Sorry, I do not know its English name. I just translate it from my language back.


By the way, I do not want to emphasize at least one.

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Does this help at all? –  simchona Sep 5 '11 at 6:04
    
Since you would say "There are one or more apples," by analogy "are" is correct. I would suggest changing the sentence to "There are either one or several apples." It sounds much better to me; I don't know why. –  Peter Shor Sep 5 '11 at 10:50
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1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted

That is not a smooth phrase but of the choices "There are one or several apples" would be most common. See this and this for examples.

"There is at least one apple" would be better.

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+1 for the 'There is at least one apple' alternative. –  Jonathan Leffler Sep 5 '11 at 7:06
    
The more frequent alternatives "There is at least one apple," and "There are one or more apples," mean something slightly different. If I heard somebody say "There are one or several apples," I would assume that there were not two apples. –  Peter Shor Sep 5 '11 at 10:52
    
It may be common, but it is in technical violation of the rule about verbs agreeing with the number of the nearer subject in disjunctive compound subjects, such as this one. –  tchrist Dec 19 '12 at 14:35
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