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There is a man and a woman standing nearby the drugstore.

or

There are a man and a woman standing nearby the drugstore.

?

  • 2
    In existential constructions like this, the dummy pronoun "there" inherits its number agreement properties from the subject it displaces. In this case the displaced subject consists of a coordination of two NPs linked with "and", so it follows that the verb should also be plural (cf. "A man and a woman are / *is standing near the structure"). Informally, however, especially with present tense declaratives with reduced is , many speakers rightly or wrongly always treat "there" as singular. – BillJ Dec 28 '18 at 16:55
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Strictly speaking, according to grammarians, it would have to be the latter, "There are a man and a woman standing near [more idiomatic than "nearby"] the drugstore."

The man and the woman are standing there. There they are. There are a man and a woman near the drugstore.

But, you will frequently hear, "There is," in that situation. People say it a lot. It really doesn't even sound wrong to me, and I say it that way myself sometimes.

So if the population says it, is it really incorrect? I say either is acceptable, but only your second option follows the rules of English grammar.

  • It's increasingly common to hear native English speakers say things like: There's several people waiting outside and there's all sorts of trouble brewing. I suspect it's only a matter of time before this construction becomes common currency. – Ronald Sole Dec 28 '18 at 21:12

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