What verb form should I use when talking about two uncountable items?
Which of these sentences is correct?
1.There are lightning and thunder.
2.There is lightning and thunder.
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Lightning and thunder are both uncountable nouns, but there are two of them, i.e. it is possible to count uncountable-noun words. For this reason we use the plural form are:
Lightning and thunder are both natural phenomena.
The confusion arises because we also have an idiomatic phrase in English thunder and lightning, which is treated as a (singular) noun phrase:
There is thunder and lightning in the sky.
The thunder and lightning is pretty scary, huh?
Technically you could break the noun-phrase from the singular "thunder and lightning" back into its constitutent parts of "thunder" and "lightning" and so something like this is technically grammatical:
(X) The thunder and lightning are pretty scary.
It is grammatical (replace the nouns to see this fact: "the rain and hail are pretty scary!" is perfectly grammatical), but it is extremely unidiomatic, and no native English speaker would say it.