The rule is quite clear...or is it? We generally use 'there is' or 'there are' to talk about the existence (or not) of something, and the general rule is that we use 'are' with plural subjects.
There is a girl from Greenland in our class.
Can you believe that there aren't any messages for me on Facebook?
There are supposed to be five of us. Who's missing?
However, in informal speech, we often use there is with plural nouns:
There's some children coming to play trick or treat tonight; have we got anything to give them?
In fact, to my ears, saying 'there are some children coming' actually sounds odd, even though it's grammatically correct!
So, could we say 'there is going to be some changes around here'? I'd say, informally, yes.
Are there any grammarians among us to refute what I've just said?
But, there's worse.
What do we do when there are multiple subjects?
There is a Korean girl, a Danish man, and an American Indian in my class.
There are a Korean girl, a Danish man, and an American Indian in my class.
Which would you use?
I know which one I would use. Using there are sounds positively awkward to my ears.
However, I would say:
There are two Korean girls, a Danish man, and an American Indian in my class.
The reason is because ellipsis is present in these case. What we really want to say is:
There is a Korean girl, there is a Danish man, and there is an American Indian ...
In other words, we use the verb that coincides with the first subject... in speaking anyway. The reason is, perhaps, we hear the words 'There are a Korean girl', and we wince because we haven't heard what is to come later. However, in writing, when we see the plural verb, we skim across, and we see that there are more subjects, so the brain accepts it.
The best way to avoid these situations is to use the plural subject first! In the case of multiple singular subjects, I'd tend to avoid ellipsis, and repeat:
There is a Korean girl...there is a Danish man...and, there is even an Indian American ...!
Any comments from the experts?