I would like to know whether to use the singular or plural verb in the following sentence:

In cases where there is/are headroom, ....

It seems to me that the subject ought to be "In cases where", hence the plural form should be taken. BUT, it could be argued that we are actually referring to the individual cases instead, and therefore, the singular form should be employed.

Thanks for the help in advance.


1 Answer 1


That isn't a complete sentence, but if it were, “In cases where...” would not be the subject. It's a prepositional phrase that would typically modify the whole sentence like an adverb. This phrase has a subordinate relative clause, “where there is headroom.” In that clause, is pairs there and headroom, which are singular. (There is flexible about plurality, but headroom is singular.)

  • 1
    Yes. It was an interesting question and I agree with the substance of your answer. Clearly we would say 'In cases where there are horses, more labour is needed'.
    – WS2
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 7:36

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