Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the EnglishProofreading Service - Pain in the English

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Member Since

August 3, 2003

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There were/was an apple and an orange.

  • August 3, 2003, 10:06pm

The problem is not in the prescriptive grammar, but in the sociolinguistic phenomenon: in the American vernaculars, the existential "there is/are" and the past tense forms are increasingly being used as a phrase with only the singular form - notice how many people actually say "There's several things we need to discuss" or so. Fortunately, grammar (in the broad sense - syntax, morpholgy, etc.) belongs to no one and cannot really be controlled by anyone, so once the majority of speakers of any language (assuming their corresponding political influence, of course) adopt a new form, however apparently ungrammatical, it will become grammatical - that's why nowadays in the States we spell colour "color," and it is grammatical, for example. Alternatively, the two equally horrible weather phenomena (I'm from California, hence "horrible") could be taken for a single convincing reason to stay home near the fireplace, thus justifying the use of the singular form of the verb.