Why do we use "was" not "were" here:

There was a lot of wind and heavy rain?

Is it because wind and rain are both uncountable so they are consider as singular nouns, or is it because they are used to describe one thing together which is weather on that day? (Like we would say: This girl is tall and gorgeous. But tall and gorgeous here are adjectives instead of nouns like rain and wind?)

  • 2
    Uncountable: there was a lot of water... there were a lot of people... there was sand in my shoe... there were pebbles in my shoe... Jun 15, 2022 at 5:00
  • 3
    There was a lot of wind and [there was also] heavy rain. Jun 15, 2022 at 7:38
  • The rule of proximity applies here. The nearest NP to the verb is the singular "a lot of wind", so singular agreement is normal. But if it was a plural NP, the verb would be plural: There were a lot of heavy storms and heavy rain".
    – BillJ
    Jun 15, 2022 at 16:34
  • Dummy there is usually contracted with is as there's, and that form never changes, no matter what follows it: There's some men here to see you is perfectly normal English. Verb agreement is not important in English, since it adds no information and confuses students to no purpose. The same applies to the past -- was is much more normal than were. Be is the only verb with past agreement, and nobody cares much about it. Jul 13, 2022 at 23:30
  • 1
    Okay. Don't worry. "Dummy" is a technical term in syntax; it refers to words with no meaning that are inserted by rules, like the it in It's raining. Jul 16, 2022 at 21:28

1 Answer 1


Many weather-related words are uncountable nouns, such as wind, rain, sleet, snow, thunder, lightning, sunshine, and even "weather" itself. That means they are used in singular form, even when there is more than one present.

There was a lot of wind and heavy rain.

Other examples:

There was a lot of thunder and lightning.

There was a lot of rain and sleet mixed with snow.

  • It's definitely common to use singular with uncountable nouns, e.g. "There was rice and pasta on the table". But "a lot", being singular in form (indefinite article), makes it even more likely that a singular will sound natural. "There was a lot of cars and buses on the road" sounds OK to me, while I prefer "There were cars and buses on the road".
    – Stuart F
    Jul 19, 2022 at 10:29
  • @StuartF If "a lot" is used properly, it would imply that there was quantitative measurement of them, generally assumed to be several or more. In this case, you are right that it would be "was" rather than "were". However, given that "a lot of" is used as an adjective rather than a noun by the general populace, I would argue that "There were a lot of cars and buses on the road" is as correct as "There were many cars and buses on the road".
    – Blue Dev
    Jul 19, 2022 at 13:18
  • Surely the difference is that cars and buses are countable, and therefore 'were' is considered correct regardless of whether 'a lot of' is used or not. For me 'was a lot of cars' is just plain wrong, unless you are using 'a lot' as a noun. The use of 'a lot' by the OP is slightly misleading, as I don't get the impression they're asking about the idiomatic use of 'a lot' to mean 'many'.
    – fred2
    Aug 4, 2022 at 17:57
  • @fred2 Not sure what your question is. You are correct in what you say. "There were a lot of cars on the road yesterday." The cars are countable. Aug 5, 2022 at 22:02
  • @swmcdonnell I was responding to Stuart F and Blue Dev's comment more than your answer. But thanks.
    – fred2
    Aug 6, 2022 at 4:52

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