Sibia Proofreading Blog

“There is…” v. “There are…,” and Not Overusing These Phrases

Dona Le - Friday, August 07, 2009

When you want to write that “there are …” or “there is…,” always make sure that you are conjugating the verb (“to be”) correctly. This will depend on what follows in the sentence–plural nouns will require “are,” while singular nouns require “is.” 

For example: “There is grammatical errors in your essay.”  This is incorrect because the writer is speaking of errors, plural.  If you still think the above sentence sounds right the way it is, try inverting it: “Grammatical errors is in your essay.”  Here, you can clearly discern that the sentence should be: “Grammatical errors are in your essay.”  Likewise, the original sentence should be written as follows:  “There are grammatical errors in your essay.”

So when you are in doubt regarding which verb conjugation to use in a “there is” or “there are” phrase, you can simply invert the sentence to clarify the issue. However, try to avoid using these phrases too often, as this can make your writing repetitive and passive.

There are many writers who overuse “there is” or “there are” in their essays. Of course, there are some cases in which this is appropriate.  There are other cases, however, when using this phrase is unnecessary.  There is sometimes a sentence that can be reworded more effectively without using “there is” or “there are.”  Remember–there is always room for improvement in your writing!

The paragraph above is less than ideal because it utilizes variations of “there is” far too often (in each sentence!) and thus sounds cumbersome and boring. Consider the paragraph rewritten and improved as follows.

Many writers overuse “there is” or “there are” in their essays. Of course, this might be appropriate in some cases, but in other cases, using this phrase is unnecessary. Sometimes, a sentence can be reworded more effectively without using “there is” or “there are.” Remember–you always have room to improve your writing!

Sentences that are structured as “There is a [noun] who/that [verb]” can sometimes be rewritten simply as “[Noun] [verb] ….”  The first sentence in the above paragraph was originally: “There are many writers who overuse ‘there is’ or there are’ in their essays.”  “Many writers” form the noun and the sentence subject, while “overuse” is the verb.  Thus, this sentence can be rewritten as “Many writers overuse….”

To vary your language and adopt a more active and engaging tone, review your work to ensure that you don’t overuse “there is/there are,” and when you do use it, make sure the phrase is grammatically correct!

For more help with your writing, come to Sibia Proofreading so that our experienced editors can perform an efficient and comprehensive review of your document! Our editing and proofreading services are designed to suit your specific needs and your schedule.


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