How to use There is / There are in English

How to use there is / there are in English?




Feel free to leave a comment if you find any errors or if you have any suggestions to make to improve this lesson.

We use there is (singular) and there are (plural) to talk about the presence of someone or something:

  • There is a book on the table.
  • There are two books on the table.

In negative sentences:

  • There is not a book on the table (we can also say: There is no book on the table)
  • There are not two books on the table (we can also say: There are no books on the table)

In the questions:

  • Is there a book on the table?
  • Are there two books on the table?

To answer, you can say:

  • Yes, there is / No, there isn’t
  • Yes, there are / No, there aren’t

The contractions:

  • There is = There’s
  • There is not = There’s not / there isn’t
  • There are not = There aren’t   (not there’re )

Orally, there’s is more used than there is:

  • There’s a party tomorrow night near the lake.
  • There’s some pizza in the fridge.

Note: even if this is incorrect, English speakers often use there’s orally, even if they speak several things:

  • There’s four other people waiting outside.

There was / There were

In the past, we use there was (singular) and there were (plural):

  • There was a spider in the kitchen.
  • There were children playing in the park.

Constructions with There / auxiliary / be

  • There will be
  • There is going to be
  • There used to be
  • There could be
  • There should be
  • There would be
  • There must be

Some examples of possible uses:

  • There will be too many people.
  • There could be a problem.
  • There should be a solution.
  • There must be toilets nearby.


1 – To express duration, we use Ago

  • I went to Tokyo two weeks ago.  (NOT ‘I went to Tokyo there’s three weeks’)

2 – Don’t confuse: They’re, Their, and There!

  • They’re = They are
  • Their = possession


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