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I am an English learner. While I was watching a documentary video, this caption really confused me a lot.

Is it correct to say there is a lot? I thought it is supposed to be there are a lot.

Also, what is the difference between over here and at here?

enter image description here

marked as duplicate by FumbleFingers, Hellion, Edwin Ashworth, anongoodnurse, choster Feb 11 '14 at 2:44

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  • The word activity is a mass noun, so it takes the singular. You say "a lot of water is headed our way", because water is a mass noun. It doesn't really matter that there are two kinds of activity here, because they're being treated as two aspects of one thing. If they weren't, you'd need to use a plural verb, as in "the clean and dirty water are kept separate". – Peter Shor Feb 10 '14 at 18:02
  • What you got here is an existential construction, and the grammatical subject is the dummy pronoun "there". As to standard usage, with respect to, er, pseudo-"subject-verb" agreement, you might be interested in the info that's in the appropriate entry of a usage dictionary, such as Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage. In my MWCDEU, it is the "there is, there are" entry. – F.E. Feb 10 '14 at 20:08
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In addition to other reasons given, it's singular because English speakers don't like putting multiple (unstressed) R sounds in a row; "there is" or "there's" is easier to say than "there are".

It's very common to hear things like "There's over a hundred people in here!" or "There's too many to count"; grammatically, those should have are instead of is, but when you're actually pronouncing the sentence, "There're" just doesn't roll off the tongue smoothly, and "there's" is just as understandable, so the substitution is made naturally and frequently.

In situations where the word "are" is more emphasized, it will be used much more readily:

There are ways to get what you want

With this sentence, normally "There", "are" and "ways" are all pretty equally stressed during pronunciation.

Compare that to

There's loads of ways to get what you want.

With this sentence, "There's" is relatively unstressed, and "loads" is heavily stressed. Because of this stress pattern, "there's" will often be said instead of "there are".

  • 1
    Good point about much depending on whether the speaker wants to emphasise that there is (or are) a lot of whatever he's talking about (as opposed to none because it/they don't even exist), or whether he's more interested in the fact that there's a lot (not just a few). In the second case, the plurality of the verb becomes less important, and since there're is "awkward", we tend to just ignore that theoretical plurality mismatch. – FumbleFingers Feb 10 '14 at 17:51
  • I'm not sure you're correct about a dislike for "multiple r"s. When Gerardine Ferraro ran for VP, no one stumbled over her name. Ferrocarril is a word I heard a lot (granted, it's a practice word, and said differently, but it's fun to say) when my kids were learning Spanish. R is one of the most common consonants in the English language. In German, Swedish, Spanish, Portuguese and Turkish, it is the fifth most common letter, including vowels. If it were unpleasant to repeat, I wonder why there would be so many words with r in them. Red Rum would be unpopular on sound alone. – anongoodnurse Feb 10 '14 at 23:57
  • GeraLdine (no double-R there), last name "Fer-ARR-o", with the second "r" sound stressed. :-) And it's twice, unstressed, in a row; "Red Rum" has a D between the R's. – Hellion Feb 11 '14 at 14:24
  • @Susan, Also just to be clear, it's certainly not that people are incapable of it (as an example, people can say Roger Federer 's name with no problem) but if there's an alternative to it, that alternative is often preferred. – Hellion Feb 11 '14 at 14:30
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It’s singular because activity is singular.

The difference between over here and at here is that over here is grammatical and at here is not.

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'Lot' as a singular noun means a (usually large) number of things grouped together. In the context of a group of things sold at auction, the number does not necessarily need to be large.

You would use 'a lot' with non-count nouns, and 'lots' with count nouns to denote a large quantity, eg 'there's a lot of sugar in the bowl' or 'there are lots of sugar lumps in the bowl'.

As Barrie pointed out, 'at here', while arguably more consistent with phrases like 'at the/this point', or 'at the/this moment', or even 'at the/this place', and 'at once' is not grammatically correct English, while 'over here/there' are correct.

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