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If someone asks me Are there any phones in the room? Can I answer yes there is / no there isn't to possible indicate .... let's say that there's just one phone or none or for any other reason

If someone asks me Is there a phone in the room? Can I answer yes there are / no there aren't (same idea as the first example)

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    If somebody asks you "are there any phones in the room", and there is exactly one, you can say yes, there is one. If there aren't any, you should say no, there aren't. – Peter Shor Apr 6 '14 at 13:52
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    And, I think if they asked "is there a phone in this room", you could reply, "yes, there are two..." – Mike Apr 6 '14 at 14:11
  • Your question actually involves two major issues: (1) verb agreement in an existential construction, (2) response to a question. Answer for #1, there is no need for verb agreement in an existential construction--even though grade schools and pop-grammarians push bogus "rules" at you. (The rule is: Trust your ear.) For #2, often a person will respond to a question by sorta echoing part of the question back; so if the questioner began the question with "Are there", the responder might begin the response with "(Yes/no) there are"; and the same with "There is"--but it's up to the responder. – F.E. Apr 6 '14 at 19:34
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It gets clearer if you write out the full response:

Are there any phones in the room?
Yes there is phones in the room.
No there isn't phones in the room.

So, if you answer strictly yes/no to the asker's question, you can now see that replying with "Yes there is..." to an "Are there any..." question is grammatically incorrect. The same goes for "Is there any..." questions; the pluralization in the response should match the pluralization in the question.

However, you can modify your reply if you want to imply something, such as in this case, how many phones can be found:

Are there any phones in the room?
Yes there is [a phone in the room].
Yes there are [several phones in the room].
No there aren't [any phones in the room].

  • Why the downvote? Is the answer incorrect in any way? – IQAndreas Apr 8 '14 at 4:49
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As pointed out by user F.E. in the comments:

Your question actually involves two major issues:

(1) verb agreement in an existential construction,

(2) response to a question. Answer for #1, there is no need for verb agreement in an existential construction--even though grade schools and pop-grammarians push bogus "rules" at you. (The rule is: Trust your ear.)

For #2, often a person will respond to a question by sorta echoing part of the question back; so if the questioner began the question with "Are there", the responder might begin the response with "(Yes/no) there are"; and the same with "There is"--but it's up to the responder.

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