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"Are there" or "Is there"?

Asked by [ Admin ] , Edited by Peter Mortensen [ Admin ]

What is correct of the following?

  • Are there any tips or tricks to remember?

  • Is there any tips or tricks to remember?


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2 answers


donald remero [ Moderator ]

The verb must always agree with the subject in number. The subject is plural. Therefore, "are" is the correct choice.

I still think the easiest guidance for resolving issues like this is to "turn the question into a sentence." Once you do that the correct answer is almost always obvious.

In this case, you would have:

Some (any) tips and tricks are there to remember.

Or, alternatively:

There are some (any) tips and tricks to remember.

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As Donald says, there must be agreement between the verb and subject. The situation that most often causes confusion is collective nouns such as "team".

"Team" is singular, even though it represents multiple people, so:

"My team are winning" is incorrect: "My team is winning"

To confuse matters even further, I have seen it argued that in some cases either can be correct:

"The team is going home" vs "The team are going home"

The first is clearly correct. Apparently the latter would mean "The [members of the] team are going [to their respective] home[s]" whereas the former would imply the team were going home together. Does anyone have an official reference for whether this usage is correct?

NN comments
donald remero

The Allyn & Bacon Handbook which has been widely used in U.S. colleges for years states that “Collective nouns have plural or a singular sense depending on the meaning of a sentence.” It is clear to me, however, that there is a difference in sensibility about this between British and American speakers, with British speakers being far more likely to say the “The team are going home” than a typical American, even though the meaning is exactly the same.

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