Some of us may come to this confusion when it appears that the use of singular or plural verb to be for prepositional phrase a lot of.
The correct one is "There is a lot of apples."
The subject in the sentence is A lot, a singular lot, just as if it were a bird, or a person. The confusion stems from the prepositional phrase that modifies the subject, which in this case is what we have A lot of: apples. We have a lot of apples. Since the modifier is plural, many people think they should use a plural verb. But the SUBJECT is still the singular LOT (not lots), and so must therefore agree with the singular verb IS, not are.
Remember, it's subject-verb agreement we're looking for...if you can identify the subject, you can indentify its form, and from that you can identify the form of the verb. To help you figure out what the subject is, find the verb, and ask youself what it's referring to. There is...what? There is...a lot of apples. There is...a lot... So the verb is reffers to the lot (of what the lot consists does not matter to the structure of the sentence. The only thing that matters is that it is a lot. It would be the same if it were: There is a lot of food, cars, emotion, emotions. The all modify the singuar lot, which needs a singular verb.)
You should also know however that since the English language is defined through common usage, and the usage of "there are a lot..." is so increasingly common, this usage is now also typically considered correct .
Below I've listed two websites with some very useful information.
The first was reccommended to me by an English professor who actually used it to teach himself English! (he was from India) It's very thourough and covers almost every topic, including excercises, quizzes, and emails for further questions.
The second said this: "There is a lot of birds here or there are a lot of birds here. Both are correct. The first is correct since "lot" is singular. The second is correct because it is gaining acceptance through popular use."
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