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Subjects usually agree with verbs and series of nouns usually make a plural subject as far as I know. Thus in sentences like "A book, two pencils and a pen are lying on the table." we use are and not is. So why does "there" seem to break the rule in the sentence "There is a book, two pencils and a pen on the table."? Is there any logic behind it? Or maybe some history?

  • There's many, many, many questions about the use of there is, there are, there's, and there're on this site. The contraction there's is idiomatic to enumerate a list; the spelled-out version there is is much less so. – Arm the good guys in America Nov 22 '19 at 6:00
  • We'd need a real sentence, not just the template "There is X and Y", before we can judge how idiomatic it would be. – Rosie F Nov 22 '19 at 9:20
  • In my basket of fruit there are apples and oranges. In my curry there is cumin and turmeric. – Michael Harvey Nov 22 '19 at 9:56
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    It's because the subject is "there". – Greg Lee Nov 22 '19 at 12:16