3

Consider:

There (is/are) a banana and two oranges?
There (is/are) two oranges and a banana?

I'm looking for a non-colloquial and formally correct way (British English) of writing these two sentences if there is any. Any references are welcome.

2

It's either "There is a banana and two oranges." or "There are two oranges and a banana."

Reference: http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/grammar/learnit/learnitv128.shtml

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  • 1
    +1: But I think there may be exceptions. I'd say "there are a cat and a dog who fight all the time living in the house next door", because this sentence treats the cat and dog together as a unit. (Of course, this might be idiosyncratic or it might be my American dialect; I'd like to know if somebody has investigated this.) – Peter Shor Oct 5 '13 at 20:19
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    @ Peter Shor: I'd say "There are a cat and a dog who fight all the time living in the house next door", because this sentence treats the cat and dog together as a unit, too. I'd also say "There are a banana and two oranges in the bowl." (I might swap them round if I didn't fancy an argument.) But "There is bacon and eggs on the menu." – Edwin Ashworth Oct 5 '13 at 21:44
  • At owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/599/01 is: << 9. In sentences beginning with 'there is' or 'there are', the subject follows the verb. Since there is not the subject, the verb agrees with what follows. There are many questions. There is a question.>> Combining this with the undisputed 'John and Jane are here' gives "There are a banana and two oranges." I'm adding this becaues it supports the way I'd do it, not because I believe my quoted authority is necessarily superior to Zafer's. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 5 '13 at 23:08
  • @Edwin: I agree that the only truly unacceptable grammar here is "There is two oranges and a banana ...". If the banana's first, I'm happy with either verb. – Peter Shor Oct 5 '13 at 23:25
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    @tchrist: Maybe he's anticipating the first step in the overhaul: eliminate the subjunctive? – Peter Shor Oct 8 '13 at 20:31
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In school we learn to:

  1. Use the noun nearest to the verb when using

    • either... or...
    • neither... nor...
    • not only... but also...
    • not... but...

(They are before each noun)

  1. Use the first noun when using

    • ...together with...
    • ...like...
    • ...including...
    • ...as well as...

(They are in the middle)

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  • But this construction is "There is/are ... and ..."; it's not on your list. – Peter Shor Oct 5 '13 at 20:17
  • Sorry it took so long for me to respond... it is not about the "there", it's about the connector between the nouns: Use no. 2 for "...and..." (I forgot to add it). "There are seven bananas and a monkey." and "There is a monkey and seven bananas." I will check this with a teacher tomorrow. – TresPaul Oct 7 '13 at 19:23

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