Is or are?

Which is correct?

a) There are a caterpillar and two butterflies in the picture.

b) There is a caterpillar and two butterflies in the picture.

The second sentence is correct, i.e.

“There is a caterpillar and two butterflies in the picture.”

It says that you use “a singular form of ‘be’ (which is is) when you are giving a list of items and the first noun in the list is singular or uncountable.”

However,  “There are two butterflies and a caterpillar in the picture.”, using the general rule “that the verb form matches the item(s) that it is adjacent to …” (Roger Woodham, BBC World Service – Learning English)

bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/grammar/learnit/learnitv128.shtml

However, never use is before a plural noun or noun phrase, e.g.

“There’s mangoes on the tree.”

or

“There’s five apples on the table.” 

Are” should always be used in these kinds of sentences.

Happy Surfing

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