The exercise is to pick the correct verb in the following sentences:

Last year there (was/were) two cinemas and one hotel on Apple street.

There (is/are) one cinema and two hotels there now.

In the first it's definitely "were". What about the second?

Context: this exercise was given to elementary school kids in an English class in a non-English speaking country. The teacher said that the correct answer is "is" becasue the part of the subject immediately following the verb is singular "one cinema". Is this true?

I know that this question is very similar to "There is" or "There are" a man and a woman?. But I still would like to ask it for this exercise, intentionally constructed to be confusing.

  • 1
    Yes: generally we would use the rule of proximity, whereby the noun nearest to the verb determines the verb-form, singular or plural.
    – BillJ
    Commented Apr 11, 2020 at 6:17

2 Answers 2


Proximity is important for English speakers. Use the verb that matches the closest noun unless it's an odd circumstance.


The sentence should be rewritten as:

There are two hotels and one cinema there now.

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