4
  1. "There is a banana and an apple on the floor."

  2. "There are a banana and an apple on the floor."

  3. "There are bananas and an apple on the floor."

  4. "There is a banana and apples on the floor."

I'm confused with the rules of using "is" and "are." Please tell me which one is correct and which is not.

And based on what the verb has to be conjugated? Is it the total amount of the subject mentioned or is it just the first subject?

1

It has to be "are" as verbs are conjugated in coherence with the complete subject. Omit the "there" to make it easier;

"A banana and an apple is on the floor"
or
"A banana and an apple are on the floor"

The first one is incorrect.
In the same way you would say:

My friend and I are going places.

  • 1
    Er, no. You can't omit the word "There". That word "There" is the subject of the OP's sentence. Subject-verb agreement involves the subject. – F.E. Jan 23 '15 at 20:35
  • Since you don't see "There" to be the subject, then what is the subject of the sentence? – F.E. Jan 23 '15 at 20:49
  • "a banana and an apple" – AverageGatsby Jan 23 '15 at 20:50
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    Here is one test that shows evidence that "There" is probably the subject of the sentence: subject-auxiliary verb inversion. In the OP's 1st example: "Is there a banana and an apple on the floor?" – F.E. Jan 23 '15 at 20:55
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    Today's standard English has the existential construction, and some info on that is discussed in the links given in the comments under the OP's post. I'm kinda partial to this one: "There is"/"There are". – F.E. Jan 23 '15 at 23:52
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While a native speaker would probably not blink at speech that said, "There's a banana and an apple on the floor," it's not actually correct. "There is" is used primarily for singular nouns: "There is fruit on the floor." "There is cat fur on my coat." "There is someone at the door."

Meanwhile, "There are" is for plurals. "There are cats on my coat. There are oranges on the floor. There are people at the door."

While "fruit" counts as a singular, once you separate it out into "fruit 1 and fruit 2," it becomes plural, and therefore, uses "There are." AverageGatsby's answer basically gives a good rule of thumb on whether you can use "is" or "are."

0

There is a banana & an apple on the floor.

Here, the "is" signifies that there's a single item of both.

There are bananas & apples on the floor.

Here, "are" signifies a multitude of said fruits, and hence the plural form.

  • "a banana and an apple is on the floor" is just incorrect. – AverageGatsby Jan 23 '15 at 15:56
  • @AverageGatsby - I have not mentioned that in my answer.. – Stark07 Jan 24 '15 at 5:58

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