Usage of “there is” vs. “there are”

 

When a compound subject follows the verb and the first element is singular, the verb may be either singular or plural (as stated by The Merriam-Webster Guide to English Usage).

(1) The verb agrees with the first noun only (British English usage)

There is good seafood, beautiful Love River and friendly people

There is a dog and three cats living in this house.

There are three cats and a dog living in this house.


(2) Old traditional grammar suggests that the verb be plural if the compound subject is plural.

There are a dog and a cat living in this house. 

 

Is this confusing to you?  I know, sometimes, there is not a black-and-white answer. 

 

My preference is more on the verb being singular if the first element is singular; i.e.: There is good seafood, beautiful Love River and friendly people.

 

But that is just my preference.  It may be safer to follow the old traditional grammar if you are taking an exam.; i.e.: There are a dog and a cat living in this house.

 

 

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