Which of these sentences is correct? and why?

There is a car and a bicycle in the yard.

There are a car and a bicycle in the yard.

Which of these should be used in an academic essay?

  • 1
    How many objects are in the yard? The answer will help you to decide whether to use the singular or plural form of the verb. Jun 16, 2017 at 19:28
  • @P.E.Dant: I know it is silly by I think the first one is OK too! :D So I was wrong? Jun 16, 2017 at 19:28
  • 3
    However "correct" using "are" might be... native speakers say "is" in this sentence all the time.
    – Catija
    Jun 16, 2017 at 19:36
  • 1
    @P.E.Dant: I think my confusion is because that some times we use "and" to prevent from repeating a verb. So my mind translate this as "There is a car and there is a bicycle in the yard". Jun 16, 2017 at 19:36
  • 1
    As @Catija (+1) says, you will often hear native speakers use there's or there is in conversation where the plural is "correct." People don't speak with a grammar book in mind! In formal writing, though, you should always use the correct form. Jun 16, 2017 at 19:38

1 Answer 1


The correct usage here is "are", as "there" is not the subject; rather, this is known as "expletive construction", and the subject of the sentence is "a car and a bicycle". Check out my link for a full explanation.

In common speech, however, American native speakers will frequently say "is" for exactly the reason you mention in your comment above; we translate it internally as "There is a car and there is a bicycle in the yard". In fact, I can't shake the feeling that using "are" sounds weird when I hear it, no matter how I rationalize it.

Hope this helps.

  • 1
    Not just frequently. It actually sounds quite strange with "are," and it seems perhaps the language has moved on from this prescription. Jun 17, 2017 at 21:06

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