Is "there is no longer enough natural resources to support economic growth" correct?

Should it be There are no longer enough natural resources as verb should agree with noun "resources" which is plural.


For the most part, you are right: it should be

[1] There are no longer enough natural resources to support economic growth.

However, if the style is informal and the verb is cliticized to the subject, many speakers would use the third person singular:

[2] There's no longer enough natural resources to support economic growth.

This naturally raises the question of what is the subject in the sentence. Here is CGEL (p. 242):

In the first place, we find variation according to style-level in the present tense. When the copula is cliticised to the subject in informal style, many speakers use the 3rd person singular form irrespective of the number of the post-verbal NP [noun phrase]: %There's only two problems remaining ['%' indicates that what follows is grammatical in some dialects only]. This pattern suggests the verb agreement is simply with there, treated as a 3rd person singular pronoun like it.

When the copula is pronounced as a full independent word, the person-number properties of the verb match those of the post-verbal NP - compare There is only one problem remaining and There are only two problems remaining. Contrasts of this kind appear at first to indicate that the post-verbal NP is subject, but consideration of a wider range of data shows that this is not so. Compare:

[12]  i  There tends to be a single pre-eminent factor in the breakup of a marriage.
        ii  There tend to be several contributing factors in the breakup of a marriage.

Ultimately, the choice between the verb-forms tends and tend is determined by the person-number of the underlined NP, but that NP cannot be the subject of tend, for it is not located in the tend clause, but in the be clause. The situation here is comparable to that found in relative clauses, such as those enclosed in brackets in the copy [which was ready] and the copies [which were ready]. The choice between was and were in the relative clauses depends ultimately on the number of the underlined nominal, which is the antecedent for the relative pronoun which. Nevertheless it is which, not the antecedent nominal, that is subject of the relative clause. Relative which has no inherent person-number properties, but 'inherits* them from its antecedent. Similarly, the dummy pronoun there does not have inherent person-number properties but inherits them from the NP that it 'displaces* as subject. In [l0ii], several options is subject in the canonical version [a] [Several options are open to us], and there displaces it as subject in the existential version [b] [There are several options open to us], taking on its 3rd person plural features. In [12] there is subject of the tend clause, but it is a raised subject, and is understood as subject of the be clause, and it is by virtue of its understood function in that clause that it inherits the person-number features of the underlined NPs. As far as the subject-verb agreement rule is concerned, therefore, it is there which counts as subject: the complication is that it inherits its agreement features from the NP it displaces as subject.21

21A further complication arises in existentials when the verb is followed by an NP-coordination, as in There was/*were a bottle of wine and several glasses on the table. Were tends to be unidiomatic with an NP-coordination when the coordinate that is adjacent to it is singular, even though the coordination as a whole (a bottle of wine and several glasses) is plural. Plural agreement, however, occurs readily in lists: There are still Brown, Jones, Mason and Smith to interview.

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