Articles/pronouns/numerals usage after there is/are


Hi everybody! Hope you can help me.


Rules concerning there is/are construction say that we use a/an in the singular, and some, any, many, a lot, much, little, two, three etc in the plural before nouns. However, these rules do not say that we ALWAYS use them. Most examples I came across contain the abovementioned articles or pronouns, but I found some that don't. For instance: There is milk in the glass. There are flowers and a box of chocolates on the table. Is there milk or juice in the jug? Do I get it right that it's ok if we do not use any of those words in the plural and in case of uncountable nouns? Are there any other bases for it?


Thanks a lot!

asked Aug 14 '12 at 10:46 Olya New member

2 answers


I am going to try to summarize -- but in a rather lengthy way -- what has been said here. I will start with a correction. (Thanks to the Purdue University Online Writing Lab for definitions.)


First, the use of articles has nothing to do with "there is" or "there are" construction. The article use rules apply to all verb constructions and are determined solely by the type of noun.


Count nouns -- A countable noun always takes either the indefinite (a, an) or definite (the) article when it is singular. When plural, it takes the definite article if it refers to a definite, specific group and no article if it is used in a general sense.


Noncount nouns -- Uncountable nouns never take the indefinite article (a or an), but they do take singular verbs. The definite article (the) is sometimes used with uncountable nouns in the same way it is used with plural countable nouns, that is, to refer to a specific object, group, or idea.


Quantity adjectives -- Some, any, enough, plenty of, and no can modify either countable or uncountable nouns. Little, quite a little, much, and a lot of can modify uncountable nouns. Few, quite a few, many, and lots of can modify countable nouns.


Problems -- This is the heart of Olya's question, and Lewis's comment about regional differences. There are times when a noncount noun is used in a countable fashion. This occurs when the sentence omits the actual countable noun, but still conveys the meaning of the omitted words (this is called elliptical syntax). As Lewis said, these elliptical phrases vary by region.


Let us start with the noncount noun coffee. By rule, we should never say a coffee, but in many places we say: "Would you like a coffee?" Why?


What we are really saying is: "Would you like a cup of coffee?" In an example of elliptical syntax, the cup of is dropped leaving just a coffee. No hard and fast rule tells us when this type of usage is acceptable -- it varies from place to place.


I hope this helps.

link edited Aug 14 '12 at 15:45 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow


OlyaAug 14 '12 at 16:16

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colloquially speaking you are correct..........grammatically speaking you are not...... am I wrong?

link comment answered Aug 09 '13 at 21:12 jose e duarte New member

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