The choice between the phrases there is and there are at the beginning of a sentence is determined by the noun that follows it.Use there is when the noun is singular (“There is a cat”). Use there are when the noun is plural (“There are two cats”).




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There Is vs. There Are

You probably know that the choice between is vs. are depends on a noun. In most sentences, the noun comes before the verb. But in sentences that begin with there is and there are, the noun comes later.


In the sentence above, opportunities is plural, so it requires there are. (Don’t let the word many throw you off—concentrate on the noun.)

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There Is a Number of vs. There Are a Number of

There are a number of unnamed stars in our galaxy? There is a number of unnamed stars in our galaxy? It’s difficult to tease out whether you should use is or are in a construction like this. The verb is being pulled toward there, number, and stars all at once.


Some language commentators still insist on using are in sentences like this despite the awkwardness, but actual usage is extremely mixed. Remember, if the sentence sounds awkward either way, you can always rewrite it to avoid the “there is/are” problem altogether.

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