In English grammar we use “there is” or “there are” to talk about things we can see and things that exist.
We use “there is” for singular and uncountable nouns, and we use “there are” for plural countable nouns.
“There are five people in the office.” (plural countable noun)
“There’s a television in the living room.” (singular countable noun)
or “There’s some milk in the fridge.” (uncountable noun)
See our page on English nouns for more information about countable and uncountable nouns.
With plural countable nouns we can either give the quantity (“five people”) or use “some” if we don’t know the exact quantity.
“There are five people in the office.” (We can see five people exactly)
“There are some people in the office.” (We don’t know exactly how many people)
With uncountable nouns we also use “some”.
“There’s some milk in the fridge,” (I don’t know the exact quantity.)
“There’s some money in my wallet.” (I don’t know exactly how much money.)
Remember: with singular countable nouns we use a/an, the, or another determiner or pronoun – not “some”.
“There’s a woman in the shop.”
“There’s the woman who works in the hospital.”
“There’s my sister in the photo.”
Negative form and using “any”
There are two ways to form the negative.
1. Add not or n’t to the end of the verb. See our page on the verb to be for more information on forming negatives and questions.
“There isn’t a freezer in the kitchen.” (singular, countable noun)
“There isn’t any money in my wallet.” (uncountable noun)
“There aren’t any students” in the classroom. (plural noun)
For uncountable nouns, use “any” after the negative “isn’t”, and for plural countable nouns use “any” after “aren’t”.
Remember: Do not use “any” with singular countable nouns.
“There isn’t a single biscuit left in the packet.” (Not “There isn’t any single biscuit left in the packet.”)
2. Use “no” after “there is” or “there are”.
“There is no freezer in the kitchen.” (singular countable noun)
“There are no students in the classroom.” (plural noun)
“There’s no coffee left.” (uncountable noun)
However, it’s more common to use “isn’t + a” for singular countable nouns, “isnt + any” for uncountable nouns and “aren’t + any” for plural nouns.
If you need more help with English grammar, see our page on some and any for more information.
Question form and using “any”
1. To make a question, change the word order from subject-verb to verb-subject:
There is a + singular noun = Is there a + singular noun?
“Is there a toilet on this train?”
2. Then, change “some” to “any” in questions.
There is some + uncountable noun = Is there any + uncountable noun?
“Is there any time to go shopping?”
There are some + plural noun = Are there any + plural noun?
“Are there any trains to London this morning?”
Short answer form
Yes, there is. / No there isn’t.
Yes there are. / No there aren’t.
There is, There are
Choose the correct answer.
Now go on to the next page where you learn how to use the modal auxiliary “can”: Learn to Use Can for Permission and Requests in English