I find many Americans say there's a lot of people/cars/programs....is that correct or should "there's" be replaced with there are?? This question just keeps bugging me quite a bit


The argument/ assumption seems to be that the focus in

There … a lot of people/cars/programs …

is on a lot which is apparently singular.

Now recall that a lot is synonymous with lots:

There … lots of people/cars/programs …

With exactly the same meaning.

Of course, we'd use are in "There … lots of people/cars/programs …".

It's a quirk of grammar that a seemingly singular phrase is a synonym of a patently plural word, so that grammar books always insist that it should be:

There are a lot of people/cars/programs …

This needs to be followed in writing. In speech, people find it more logical (makes better sense) to say is a lot of things because of the article a.

Note: I'm not relating this question to the identical one on ELL or the ones right here on ELU because the answers there are either incorrect or incomplete.

| improve this answer | |
  • I don't think the use of "there's" is really related to the presence of "a lot". I can say "There's three cars" or "There's tons of cars" just as well. – herisson Apr 24 '18 at 14:50
  • 1
    @sumelic Kris is making the point that ...a lot of... begins with the indefinite article hence native speakers find it more natural to use the verb in the singular. It's a valid point, not sure if it deserves a downvote. Not sure if it's worth upvoting either. If Kris finds the answers in the original question either incorrect or incomplete, see footnote, maybe they should post their answer there. – Mari-Lou A Apr 25 '18 at 10:43

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.