there is/there are

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What’s the difference between there is and there are?

The phrase there is/there are is essential in English — it expresses that something exists or is available. But what’s the difference between there is and there are?

The short version: we use there is with singular nouns and there are with plural nouns.

In the village, there is a cafe.
There are two shops.

The long version: keep reading to find out! We’ll tell you when to use there is and there are, how to conjugate these phrases and whether you can use them in other tenses. We’ve also got some tips on using some and any with these phrases.

Don’t forget to practise in the exercises.

When to use there is

Use there is:

There is one cafe in the village.
There is milk in my coffee.
There is some money on the table.

When to use there are

Use there are:

  • with plural nouns
There are two shops in the village.

How to conjugate there is/there are

To conjugate there is/there are, we use the simple present of the verb be:

Positive Negative Question
there is there isn’t Is there …?
there are there aren’t Are there …?

Short forms

We shorten there is to there’s.

There are stays the same.

There’s a tree in the garden.
but: There are two trees in the garden.
not: There’re

there is/there are in other tenses

We can use there is/there are in most (but not all) tenses.

To do so, we take the conjugation of be in that tense.

There was a rainbow in the sky yesterday. (simple past)
There will be a concert tomorrow. (future)
There have been two accidents since last year. (present perfect simple)

Note: we can’t use there is/there are in the progressive tenses.

some or any?

We use some in positive sentences and any in negative sentences and questions.

There are some people in the shop.
There isn’t any milk.
Are there any shops in your village?

We can use some in questions, but only when we expect the answer to be affirmative.

Read more about some vs. any.