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The sentence

Here is your umbrella and your coat.

is from New Concept English. So I presume it is grammatically correct.

I also saw sentences like

There is an apple and two oranges.

So why is is used instead of are?

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At least the second one seems wrong. When there are a group of objects in list with "and", the list is referred to as plural and should receive plural conjugation. –  American Luke Aug 3 '12 at 18:04
    
but does "there are an apple and two oranges" sound odd to you? –  user24442 Aug 3 '12 at 18:14
    
No. Probably because I'm used to it (maybe I'm just different). –  American Luke Aug 3 '12 at 18:16

4 Answers 4

The rule I learnt is that the verb / auxiliary agrees with the first member of the list. E.g.:

There is a black cat, a white cat, and two ginger cats.

There are four cats. One is black, one is white, and two are ginger.

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is there a name for this kind of grammar? or any reference on this topic? –  user24442 Aug 3 '12 at 19:05
    
@user2442 Sorry, I don't have my grammar reference books to hand at the moment. However, I believe that this rule is widely taught and is consistent with common usage. –  Pitarou Aug 3 '12 at 19:09
    
I believe "There are a black cat, a white cat, and two ginger cats" would also be commonly used. Both are fine here. –  Peter Shor Aug 3 '12 at 19:11
    
@Pitarou I've always been taught to use this rule when the coordinating conjunction is "or". –  American Luke Aug 3 '12 at 19:15

There is is coming to be used as an invariable term to introduce items whether they are singular or plural. The same may also be happening with here is, but in your example 'your umbrella and your coat' can be regarded as a single item, in so far as the two are being offered together.

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1  
but why we say "there are two oranges and an apple" and "there is an apple and two oranges"? –  user24442 Aug 3 '12 at 18:05
    
@user24442 No we don’t. We use are for both, or is for both, but no alternation. The alternation would occur with disjunction, for some especially careful speakers, perhaps. –  tchrist Aug 3 '12 at 18:29
    
"There is the soldiers"? Definitely not! "There's the soldiers"? Informal, but okay. "There is the general and the colonel."? Fine. –  Peter Shor Aug 3 '12 at 19:05

In spite of what grammar rules may say, as other answers have noted, "there is" is a popular way to introduce items singular or plural. For your particular examples, my explanation for the extent of their acceptance is that they are understood as elliptic forms:

• Here is your umbrella and your coat
← Here is your umbrella, and here is your coat
• Here is an apple and two oranges
← Here is an apple, and here are two oranges

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I agree with jwpat7 about the understanding with what's left off at the end and implied. The "and" truncates what could be a longer sentence as in that answer above (an elliptic form). You could stop the sentence, in other words, at "There is an apple." Or have another sentence "There are two oranges." But combined together, "There is an apple and two oranges" is correct because it could continue as "There is an apple and two oranges on the table" and it sounds correct. We know it is right since we can remove the phrase "and two oranges" and the sentence still works. Two commas could be placed around the phrase even since it's almost a side note now in my longer sentence: "There is an apple, and two oranges, on the table."

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