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There is an inkpot, some books and a deck of cards on the table.

The predicate takes the singular form since the first subject is singular.

But what about

There is/are an inkpot and a book on the table.

Can the same rule be applied in this sentence?

  • 1
    You may already know this, but there is no need to use "There is". An inkpot and a book are on the table. An inkpot, some books, and a deck of cards are on the table. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Mar 9 '17 at 21:10
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It's the same "rule", as far as I know. More information

There is an inkpot and a book on the table.

According to the linked article, "this is" represents an ellipsis where some repeating words are left out to make the sentence shorter and simpler:

There is an inkpot and (there is) a book on the table

Even with "mixed" subjects, just make the verb agree with the first subject:

There is an elephant and (there are) some wildebeests in the photograph.

  • Thanks. But why is the word "rule" enclosed in quotation marks? I meant the grammar rule. – Yulia Mar 9 '17 at 18:19
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    I'm not sure it's a formal grammar rule. It might just be more common practice, like the "rules" around the use of commas. You'd have to ask one of the more professional English linguists on here. – Andrew Mar 9 '17 at 18:21

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