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Which is correct:

In this glass, there is two times as much water as in that glass.

or

In this glass, there are two times as much water as in that glass.


Note: I know water is uncountable, but why do we say:

There are two liters of water.


Liter and time are both countable nouns.

  • Is. And I would say "as in that glass" rather than "as that glass". Or rephrase to "This glass contains twice as much water as that glass." – nnnnnn Jun 4 '16 at 8:02
  • @nnnnnn: And I would say "as in that glass" Thanks for the correction! – Mori Jun 4 '16 at 8:05
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First, times is a plural noun in your sentence. And two times indicates two of this same noun. You can't use an adverb in the blank below:

There is/are two _____ as much/many in this glass as in the other one.

This is verified by the Oxford English Dictionary:

time (noun)

  1. In plural Preceded by a number

a. Expressing comparison:

followed by an adjective or adverb in the comparative degree (e.g. ten times bigger, ten times more slowly, ten times less), or by as or (now rare) so with an adverb of quantity (e.g. ten times as (or so) many (as), ten times as (or so) much (as)).

Notice we can say either

two times as much ______ as

or

two times as many ______ as

depending upon whether the noun in the blank is a mass noun or count noun. We use much with mass nouns and many with count nouns.

It is precisely because water here is being used as a mass noun that we use is:

In this glass, there is two times as much water as in that glass.

Take away the comparison terms and you are left with

In this glass there is water.

Now if we are comparing a count noun, we can use are:

In this glass there are two times as many ice cubes as in that glass.

And this is an expanded version of

In this glass there are ice cubes.

So far, so good. But now comes a big caveat. Many native speakers will use there's in this case also, either because they are considering the ice cubes as a single set or because there's is a frozen form that is used by native speakers even if the following noun is plural.

In this glass there's two times as many ice cubes as in that glass.

Many native speakers will even use there's for the reduced sentence

In this glass there's ice cubes.

Some native speakers will find that clumsy, terrible sounding and downright ungrammatical. But the point remains that there's is used by native speakers to refer to more than one of something. See Can we use "there is" for plural nouns? (especially the accepted answer).

So, for the above reason, you can say either

There are two liters of water.

or

There's two liters of water.

But you probably should use are in writing and formal spoken English.

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If you look at this definition of water, you will see a small [U] after the word: this indicates that it is uncountable. Other examples of uncountable words are sugar and peace.

We use the singular form of the verb with uncountable nouns.

Compare that with the following sentence using cherry, which is countable:

In this glass, there are two times as many cherries as in that glass.

Note that we also have to change much to many: we use much for uncountables and many for uncountables.

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