There is / There are

In this lesson you will learn how to use “there is” and “there are” to talk about what is present and to use “is there?” / “are there?” to ask questions with examples of each. If you want to go straight to the exercise, click here. This lesson is part of a complete Elementary (A1-A2) English Course.

“There is / There are” for positive or negative sentences and questions

Singular / uncountableThere isThere is notIs there?
PluralThere areThere are notAre there
Illustration of "there is/ there are" in context describing singular and plural objects. A picture of a red can with the caption "there is a can" and a picture of two red cans with the caption "there are two cans."

Use “there is” to say that a singular or uncountable thing is present. “There is” is also used for lists of distinct things.

  • There is a can on the shelf.
  • There is a can, a bottle and a cup on the shelf.

Use “There are” to say that multiple countable things are present.

  • There are two cans on the shelf.
  • There are some people in the garden.

To make a question, just invert the order of “there” and “is” or “are”.

  • Are there any cans on the shelf?
  • Is there a dog in the garden?

To study or revise when countable and uncountable nouns in English, check out the lesson and exercises here.

Examples of “There is” / “there are” in context

Here are some examples of “there is” and “there are” used to describe what is visible in a variety of images.

There was / there were for positive, negative and questions about the past

To talk about what was present in the past we can use “there was” or “there were”.

  • There was a meeting yesterday.
  • Was there a problem?
  • There were some people here last week.
  • Were there any desks in the office when you arrived?
Singular / uncountableThere wasThere was notWas there?
PluralThere wereThere were notWere there


Check your comprehension of this topic with these interactive with these exercises.