Is There A, Is There Any, Are There Any - Learn The Difference

questions vocabulary Jun 27, 2021
is there a is there any are there any

Learning the differences between these sentences is a small task that will have a huge impact on your English language skills.  The differences between these sentences are subtle and knowing them will make you sound like a native English speaker.  

In this blog, we will take you through each sentence form and when to use it.  We will look at how the noun decides the form of the question.


Is There A 

‘Is there a…?’ is a question we use to ask if there is one object, person, place or thing in a specific area or place.

We can ask:

“Is there a pharmacy nearby?”

“Is there a shopping mall in this town?”

“Is there a doctor on this flight?”

We are only asking about one thing because we only need one.  We don’t need to know if there are many pharmacies or many shopping malls or many doctors; we only need one so we only ask if there is one.   


When Should You Use Is There A

Indefinite articles a/an can only be used with singular countable nouns.  Countable nouns can be used in the singular form (apple) and the plural form (apples.) 

Countable nouns are people, objects, places, animals, etc. that can be counted.  We can use numbers or the indefinite articles a/an with countable nouns.  

The indefinite articles a/an essentially mean ‘one.’  We cannot use a/an with plural nouns.  Therefore, we can only use ‘is there a…?’ to ask a question about one single person, object, animal, etc.


“Is there a hairdresser at the shopping mall?”

“Is there a park in your neighbourhood?”

Is there a apples in your fridge?


Examples With Sentences

“Is there a bank nearby?”

“Is there a nice school in this area?”

“Is there a banana in the kitchen?”

“Is there a playground for the children?”

“Is there a swimming pool we can go to?”

“Is there a rat in that house?”

“Is there a fan I can use?”

“Is there a coffee shop that has WiFi access?”

“Is there a phone I can borrow?”

“Is there a toilet in the building?”

“Is there a waiter available?”

“Is there a clean towel?”

“Is there a different bag?”


Is There An 

‘Is there an…?’ is used in the same way as ‘is there a…?’  The only difference is that we use the indefinite article ‘an’ when the singular countable noun begins with a vowel sound.

The vowels are ‘a, e, i, o, u.’ 

“Is there an apple for me?”

“Is there an umbrella? It’s raining outside.”

“Is there an elephant in the zoo?”

“Is there an amusement park in this city?”


Is There Any 

Let’s look at the example:

“Is there any bread?”

We use the question “is there any bread?” to ask if there is some bread.  We want to know if there is some bread or if there is no bread.  

The correct answers include (but are not limited to):

“Yes, there is some bread.”

“Yes, there’s a lot of bread.”

“No, there isn’t any bread.”


When Should You Use Is There Any 

We use ‘is there any…?’ with uncountable nouns.  Uncountable nouns are nouns that we don’t count because there is no defined single quantity or there are simply too many of one thing to count.

Uncountable nouns include nouns like water, milk, rice, sugar, fruit, and bread.  We cannot count them as individual nouns, but we can count them in other ways like bottles of milk, cups of water, a pot of rice, a tub of sugar, a piece of fruit, or a slice of bread. 

The most important thing to remember about uncountable nouns is that they are always considered singular, even if there is a lot of water, milk, bread or sugar.  

The rule: we use ‘there is’ with third-person singular nouns.  

We use ‘is there any…?’ with uncountable nouns because the noun is singular.  There can be a little bread, a lot of bread, or no bread, but we still use the singular form:

There is a little bread/there is a lot of bread/there is no bread.” 

We can also use ‘is there any other…?’ to ask about a singular option that is better (or more desirable) than our current option.

“Is there any other park?” (The meaning: I don’t like this park.  Is there another one?)


Examples With Sentences

“Is there any oil in the bottle?”

“Is there any sugar left?”

“Is there any bread?”

“Is there any rice?”

“Is there any other restaurant we could go to?”

“Is there any other juice?”

“Is there any other option?”

It’s important to remember that ‘is there any…?’ can only be used with uncountable nouns.

We cannot say:

“Is there any problem?”

This is not grammatically correct because a ‘problem’ is a countable noun.

We can say:

“Is there a problem?”

“Are there any problems?"

"Is there any other problem?" 


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Are There Any

Let’s look at the example:

“Are there any tomatoes?”

We want to know if there are tomatoes or not.  The quantity of tomatoes doesn’t matter.  We want to know if there are some tomatoes or no tomatoes.

The correct answers include (but are not limited to):

“Yes, there are a lot of tomatoes.”

“Yes, there are a few tomatoes.”

“No, there aren’t any tomatoes.”


When Should You Use Are There Any

We use ‘are there any…?’ with plural countable nouns.  Plural countable nouns follow the same rules as other third-person plural nouns.  Countable nouns include all nouns that can be counted such as: chairs, computers, apples, bananas, TVs, cups, plates, etc.

The rule: we use ‘are there any…?’ with third-person plural nouns.  When there is more than one countable noun, we must use ‘there are:’

There are a lot of tomatoes/there are a few tomatoes/there are no tomatoes.”

We can add ‘more’ to ask if there are more left over.

“Are there any more questions?” (The meaning: are there questions left or has everyone’s questions been answered?)

We can add ‘other’ if we want other (more desirable) options.

“Are there any other questions?” (The meaning: I don’t like the question you asked me, does anyone else have another one I can answer?) 


Examples With Sentences

“Are there any more apples?”

“Are there any more sweets?”

“Are there any other playgrounds in this city?”

“Are there any other movies to watch?”

“Are there any bikes we can ride?”

“Are there any people in your family who are vegetarian?”

It is important to remember that we can only use ‘are there any…?’ with plural countable nouns.

We cannot ask:

“Are there any information?”

This is not grammatically correct because ‘information’ is an uncountable noun.

We can ask:

“Is there any information?”


Which One Should You Use: Is There A or Is There Any? 

We must use ‘a’ with singular countable nouns and ‘any’ with uncountable nouns.  We use ‘is’ with both singular countable nouns and uncountable nouns.  Remember, uncountable nouns do have countable forms of measurement.

Singular countable nouns must take ‘is’ and ‘a.’  There is only one, so we have to use the singular form. 


“Is there a car I can borrow?”

“Is there a train station nearby?”

“Is there a chair I can sit on?”

Uncountable nouns become countable once we add a unit of measure like ‘a cup of’ ‘a piece of’ or ‘a bottle of.’  In this case, if there is only one cup, one piece or one bottle, we follow the same rule as singular countable nouns.


“Is there a piece of cake?”

“Is there a glass of water? I’m really thirsty!”

“Is there a bottle of milk in the fridge?”

And if there are two pieces of cake, we use the third-person plural form. 


"Are there two pieces of cake?" 

"Are there any glasses of water?" 

"Are there three bottles of milk in the fridge?" 

If we do not add a unit of measurement, then we must use ‘is there any…?’ with uncountable nouns.


“Is there any cake?”

“Is there any water?”

“Is there any milk in the fridge?”


Which One Should You Use: Is There Any or Are There Any? 

We use ‘is there any…?’ with uncountable nouns and ‘are there any…?’ with plural countable nouns.

“Is there any…?” can only be used with uncountable nouns.  We cannot use ‘is there any…?’ with countable nouns (regardless of whether it is singular or plural.)


“Is there any coffee?

Unless we ask for 'any other:' 

"Is there any other choice?"

We use ‘are there any…?’ to ask if there is any quantity of plural countable nouns.  


“Are there any tables we can use?”

“Are there any pens for the students?”

“Are there any trees in the park?”


Common Confusions That English Learners Have:

It’s easy to mix these sentences up because there is a lot to remember and learn before we can use them correctly.  The most common confusions that English learners have come from figuring out whether a noun is countable or uncountable.

It is common for English learners to mix up countable and uncountable nouns by either adding ‘a/an’ to uncountable nouns or adding an ‘-s’ to the end of uncountable nouns.  Uncountable nouns can never be used in the plural form and they can never take the indefinite articles a/an.

Correct: “Is there some new information?”

Incorrect: “Are there some new informations?”

Incorrect: “Is there a new information?”

One way to fix this is to learn whether a noun is countable or uncountable when you learn the word for a new noun in English.    


There Is No or There Are No?

We use ‘there is no…’ with singular countable nouns and uncountable nouns.  We use ‘there are no…’ with plural countable nouns.  


“There is no problem!"

“There is no meat.”

“There are no apples.”

“There are no flowers in the garden.”


Are There Any Questions or Is There Any Questions?

‘Questions’ is a plural countable noun.  Grammatically, it is incorrect to use ‘is’ with plural countable nouns.  Therefore, we must use “are there any questions?” instead of “is there any questions?”


Is There Any Difference or Are There Any Differences?

‘Difference’ is both a countable and an uncountable noun.  There is little difference in meaning between ‘difference’ and ‘differences,’ so we can use “is there any difference?” or “are there any differences?”

The only time ‘difference’ is strictly countable is when we refer to an argument and a need to resolve our differences.  In every other context, difference can be used as a countable or uncountable noun with the same meaning.

Remember: difference can be used in either sentence, but we must add -s when it’s used with ‘are there any differences?’ and we must leave off the ‘-s’ when it’s used with ‘is there any difference?’


Is There Any More or Are There Any more?

We use ‘is there any more…?’ with uncountable nouns: 'is there any more juice?' and ‘are there any more…?’ with plural nouns: ‘are there any more books?’


Is There More or Are There More?

We use ‘is there more…?’ with uncountable nouns.  It’s correct to ask “is there more chocolate?” We do not use ‘is there more…?’ with singular countable nouns.  We always use the plural form of the noun to ask for more with countable nouns.  “Are there more sausages?” 


Is There Any Plural or Singular?

“Any” is singular and plural.  “Is there any (uncountable)?” and “are there any (plural)?”


Is There Any way or Are There Any way

‘Way’ is a countable noun and follows the same rule as other countable nouns.

We can ask:

"Is there any way to get through?" 

"Is there any way you could help me?" 

"Are there any other ways to learn English?" 

"Are there any ways to solve the problem?" 

We cannot ask:

Are there any way?

We can never use ‘are’ with singular nouns or uncountable nouns.  We must always add an ‘-s’ when we use ‘are’ in a question or sentence.  If we only mean one or if the noun is uncountable, we must use ‘is.’


Is There Any Problem or Are There Any Problem?

‘Problem’ is a countable noun.  It is not correct to ask “is there any problem?”  The best way to ask if something is wrong and to give others the opportunity to ask questions is to ask “are there any problems?”


Is There Any or Are There Any?

We use ‘is there any…?’ with uncountable nouns and ‘are there any…?’ with plural countable nouns.


Recap: Is There or Are There - Which Is Correct?

The noun always decides the form of the question.  We use “is there…?” with singular countable nouns (“is there a dog in the park?”) and uncountable nouns (“is there any cheese in the fridge?”) We use ‘are there…?’ with plural countable nouns (“are there any more sandwiches?”)