So, we got in a discussion with a friend about it. The whole sentence he mention was:

There is the people with standards and the people who have fun.

By now we are pretty certain it should be there are but there's still some confusion here. On top of that, there are the lyrics of John Lennon's song Immagine:

Imagine there's no countries

So that confuses everything.


The existential construction takes there as a subject. There has no meaning, and often the verb takes its agreement from the complement of the verb BE. So if the Noun Phrase after BE is plural, the verb will be in a plural form. If the Noun Phrase is singular it will susually be singular:

  • There is an antelope over there.
  • There are some antelopes over there.

Notice, however, that in the examples above, the subject and the verb BE are not contracted. In normal speech these will nearly always be contracted. We will use there's instead of there is. It is also quite common nowadays to see them contracted in writing, and you can find instances in prestigious newspapers like the Times, for example.

Now when the subject there and BE are contracted like this, the verb doesn't need to agree in any way with the following Noun Phrase. Therefore with regard to the Original Poster's example:

There is people with standards and people who have fun.

... this sentence would be regarded as ungrammatical by most, if not all speakers. However if they had contracted there and BE, then it would have been grammatical:

There's people with standards and people who have fun.

This would have brought this into line with Lennon's:

Imagine there's no countries.

Or sayings such as:

There's many a slip twixt cup and the lip.

Or usages such as:

There's times when I've wanted to box his ears

Having said this, despite the fact that this is a well documented aspect of the grammar, some nimby prescriptivists are bound to take offense at this. They will insist that it's ungrammatical to use a plural noun after there's. This will be despite the fact that they quite subconsciously actually use plural nouns after there's themselves quite frequently. They will appear about five minutes after I post this answer. They do make life fun though!

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    I was about to downvote, not because I disagree, but because this has been addressed here many times before. However, yours is the best version of the most acceptable answer I've found. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 16 '14 at 15:02
  • @EdwinAshworth Thanks, I was tempted to downvote myself, myself;) – Araucaria - Not here any more. Oct 16 '14 at 15:04
  • @Armen Ծիրունյան How do you define 'Standard English'? And does anyone else use your definition? – Edwin Ashworth Oct 16 '14 at 15:04
  • I'd have to disagree. It should be "There're people with standards and people who have fun." (I know that "there're" isn't a commonly written contraction, but it's frequently used in speech.) And "Imagine there's no countries," aside from any poetic license, is saying "Imagine there is no concept of 'country'." – Hot Licks Oct 16 '14 at 15:37
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    @Araucaria - Imagine if one could read that and understand what it meant. (Or should it be "understood what it meant"?) – Hot Licks Oct 16 '14 at 17:06

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