General Writing and Grammar Help/which is correct

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Question
QUESTION: which is correct - There are tons of humor OR there is tons of humor

ANSWER: Dear Sheryl:

which is correct - There are tons of humor OR there is tons of humor

"There" is called an "expletive."  The word has no grammatical relationship
in the sentence.  It only serves as an introduction.

Rearrange the words:  tons of humor ARE . . . .

You must use ARE instead of IS, because the subject, TONS, is plural.

Conversely, you can also say that a TON [singular] of humor WAS [singular]
at the Comedy Club last night.

Ted Nesbitt

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: i have to respectfully disagree a Mr. Nesbitt.  It should be, "there is tons of humor...... the rule of thumb is if you take out the extemporaneous information, i.e. tons of, the sentence then is - there is humor.  It wouldn't be there are humor. How much humor, tons of it. Regardless of how much humor there is, humor is singular.

Answer
THERE ARE
THERE ARE  

THERE IS
THERE IS  
Dear Sheryl:

I promised you a follow-up response.  Even though you went ahead and rated my first answer as a "6," or "D minus," I am nevertheless, fulfilling the promise I made to you.  I am trying to avoid any typos or other errors, but I am viewing my computer screen with limited vision.  My right eye is still bloody and hurts a great deal.

My response will probably be disjointed, because I have gathered information from a number of sources, and, even though I will do my best to paste them in to this message in logical order, I may not succeed in my goal.  

I want to mention on further complication:  In your follow-up to my first response, you mentioned information you received from another source.  I hoped that that advice did NOT come from an Allexperts volunteer, because it is completely wrong.  You did not name the source.  Neither did you tell me that you had also contacted one of my Allexperts colleagues, Richard Johnson.  Mr. Johnson had information that you did not share with me.  I am very disappointed that you compared my answer to the incorrect answer you got from some "grammar" online site.  In other words, my correct response was rated very poorly, but you believed the answer you got from, I suspect, a highly unreliable and anonymous web site.  Your evaluation was the lowest I have received in sixteen years of serving as a volunteer.  In that time period, I have answered more than 17,000 question, including 10,695 in the "grammar and writing" category.  {At one time, I volunteered in seven categories.]  This past month, I answered 176 grammar questions and received perfect scores on all my answers, except yours.
Now, I will begin pasting in your original question to me and the related material you received from other sources:

QUESTION: which is correct - There are tons of humor OR there is tons of humor

ANSWER: Dear Sheryl:

which is correct - There are tons of humor OR there is tons of humor

"There" is called an "expletive."  The word has no grammatical relationship
in the sentence.  It only serves as an introduction.

Rearrange the words:  tons of humor ARE . . . .

You must use ARE instead of IS, because the subject, TONS, is plural.

Conversely, you can also say that a TON [singular] of humor WAS [singular]
at the Comedy Club last night.

Ted Nesbitt

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: i have to respectfully disagree a Mr. Nesbitt.  It should be, "there is tons of humor...... the rule of thumb is if you take out the extemporaneous information, i.e. tons of, the sentence then is - there is humor.  It wouldn't be there are humor. How much humor, tons of it. Regardless of how much humor there is, humor is singular.
Answer:   Dear Sheryl:


I disagree with the opinion of the other person.  However, I am having eye surgery this
afternoon, and I will not be able to see clearly for a couple of day.  I will send you
supporting information for my viewpoint as soon as possible.

I hope you understand my situation and that you will allow me a little extra time to give
you a definitive answer.  I will contact you soon.

***** This person has advised you to "take out the extemporaneous information, i.e.[,] tons of."   First, the word "extemporaneous" is wrong.  That word means "off the cuff" or "not planned." The word the person probably meant to use is "extraneous," which means "outside the context."  The word "tons" is far from being  "outside the context."  "Tons" is the SUBJECT of the sentence.  "Of humor" is a prepositional phrase, with "humor" being the object of the preposition.  An OBJECT cannot be a SUBJECT.  The "sentence" is a very poor one.

I will attempt to attach TWO screen shots of the diagrams of both the "there is" and "there are" versions.  

http://1aiway.com/

The above link is to the sentence diagram program.  You must install the Silverlight application on your computer, in order to do your own diagramming.
Note that, in the first example, the word "there" is placed on a separate line, above the rest of the sentence.  "There" is an "expletive."  It has no grammatical relationship to the sentence, and that is why it is placed above the sentence in this diagram.
When I tried diagramming the "There is" version, I got the response that there is no sentence."
The diagrammer is based on the long-standing Reed-Kellogg sentence diagramming program.

******
Here is the message that Mr. Johnson sent to you:
Expert: Richard Johnson - 4/30/2016

Question
QUESTION: ANSWER: Dear Sheryl:

which is correct - There are tons of humor OR there is tons of humor

"There" is called an "expletive."  The word has no grammatical relationship
in the sentence.  It only serves as an introduction.

Rearrange the words:  tons of humor ARE . . . .

You must use ARE instead of IS, because the subject, TONS, is plural.

Conversely, you can also say that a TON [singular] of humor WAS [singular]
at the Comedy Club last night.

Dear Ted,
I understand what you are saying, however, what creates the confusion is the use of the word “tons”, because the ton is not a normal unit of weight but a container for ideas in the sentence, “there is tons of humor to be found in the not for profit sector.” It’s a metonym.  AND in American English, collective nouns almost invariably take singular verb forms (formal agreement).

See explanation below from another grammar source on the internet.

QUESTION - Which sentence is correct? "There was tons of water" or "There were tons of water"?

SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE - Austin, Texas  Wed, Mar 21, 2001

GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE - "Tons" is rather a peculiar way to measure water (or humor). If you were talking about "gallons," instead, you’d write "There was twenty gallons of water in the tank" because we think of the amount as a singular lump sum. It's possible, though, to think of the twenty gallons I just dumped into the tank, a gallon at a time, and then I'd write "There were twenty gallons of water in the tank." The same logic would apply to "tons." Generally, the singular "was" would be appropriate — unless you're thinking of those tons as singular units.

this is a very complicated issue because there are so many exceptions to consider.

ANSWER: The issue is not really that complicated. "There" in "there is" or "there are" is a stand-in for the subject of the sentence. In "There were tons of water," the subject is "tons," and since "tons" is plural, the verb must be plural ("are"). "There was tons of water" is incorrect.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: my question was in regards to the following question:

There is tons of humor in the nonprofit world, or there are tons of humor in the nonprofit world.
Answer
There is tons of humor... is incorrect. There are tons of humor... is correct. (You could also correctly say There is a ton of humor... ) The reasoning is as given in my previous answer.

Sheryl, I'm guessing you may have been confused by other material you've read or heard. What is or is not a collective noun has absolutely no bearing on this issue. Neither "ton" nor "tons" is a collective noun, and "Grammar's" answer is dead wrong. You have to be really careful when looking to opinions on technical issues like issues of grammar, that might originate with unqualified persons. Forums on the Web, especially, are filled with unreliable entries. Lots of folks like to spout off, lack of knowledge notwithstanding.

I do appreciate your questions and hope you ask more.

****  Although Mr. Johnson mentions my name, I did not receive a copy of his message.  I agree with his suggestion that "tons" is a metonym.  I would also class it as "hyperbole."   "Waiting for the other shoe to drop" is a popular and trite expression.  "Waiting for a ton of shoes to drop" is hyperbolic.

**** I have a number reliable grammar books that I use in answering questions, if such citations are requested or needed.  I found material related to the "there is/there are" situation in six of the books. I highly recommend "Hodges' Harbrace Handbook," a college-oriented grammar and writing guide.  It is published by Thomson Learning and is available through Amazon.  I also use responsible online sources, although I am wary about so-called "forums."  

Here is a Google search I did for your question:

https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=grammar+there+is+there+are

You will find some additional information at some of the sites referenced.
Finally, Sheryl, I hope that, in the future, if you are contacting more than one expert, you will mention that fact to each person.  That action would be very courteous.  I felt "out of the loop" when I discovered that you and Mr. Johnson were discussing my answer without my being included.

Best wishes.  Ted Nesbitt  

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Ted Nesbitt

Expertise

I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

Experience

I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

Education/Credentials
B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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