I'm writing a paper and I'm having trouble determining the correct word to use. Which sentence is more accurate?  There is a variety of other card-selling brands available, but Hallmark is what...

I'm writing a paper and I'm having trouble determining the correct word to use. Which sentence is more accurate?

 

There is a variety of other card-selling brands available, but Hallmark is what immediately comes to mind.

There are a variety of other card-selling brands available, but Hallmark is what immediately comes to mind.

Expert Answers
anthonda49 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The first one is correct. It has an Inverted Subject: the subject follows the verb because there is never a Subject.

In subject-verb agreement issues, be sure not to get confused by a prepositional phrase that sounds like the subject. The subject of a sentence can never be in a prepositional phrase.

Because of inversion, the true subject of your sentence is variety. That word is singular in form. A singular verb ends in -s, so "is" is the correct form to use.

Where you got confused is by the object of the preposition, which is "brands". Brands is a plural noun, so you chose the plural verb "are". Plural verbs do not end in -s. But brands is in a prepositional phrase and is the object of the subject variety.

This is a very common error to make. When a subject is separated from its verb by a prepositional phrase like that, the closeness of the noun in the prepositional phrase to the verb is easy to mistake as the Subject. If the situation arises again, just cross out (mentally or physically) any prepositional phrase to identify the true subject. See the example below.

There (is, are) a variety of other card-selling brands available...

themaine | Student

The first sentence, because there is only one variety named.

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